Portuguese parliament to be dissolved, snap election on the way

04 Nov 2021

President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa's Council of State has approved his proposal to dissolve parliament after the 2022 budget bill was rejected last week.

According to a statement from the president’s office, a majority of council members approved the dissolution of parliament, Reuters reports, but there was no indication as to when a snap election may be held.

With Rebelo de Sousa still needing to sign the dissolution decree, a report from Portuguese newspaper Expresso said he wants more time to establish the date. He held talks with the principal political parties over the weekend, with the majority saying the election should be held in January. 

Although the rejection of the budget by parliament doesn’t lead to an election automatically, the president cautioned ahead of the vote that he would have no other choice.

Parliament’s rejection of the budget brings an end to six years of comparative stability under Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa. The PM said last month:

"The government leaves this vote with ... its head held high. They (Portuguese) can count on the government to continue to govern even under the most adverse conditions, without a budget."

On Wednesday, Portugal’s Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira told Reuters that a snap election looked to be the best option to bring an end to the impasse, and would not weaken the government’s commitment to growth or fiscal targets.

According to opinion polls, support for the Socialists was not far from the 36% won in the 2019 election, with the Social Democrats in second place at around 27%.

The Socialists' left-wing allies, who rebuffed the budget along with all the right-wing parties, will likely lose seats, whilst far-right Chega could come out as the third-strongest party.