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Portugal

Portugal faces more austerity after post-bailout election

Reuters/JM Ribeiro

Portugal’s general election is "the most important elections" there since the nation's return to democracy in 1975, EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, a former Portuguese prime minister, said as voters went to the polls on Sunday.

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The opposition Social Democrats (PSD), last in power between 2002 and 2005, were ahead of incumbent prime minister Jose Socrates' Socialists in opinion polls but look

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

unlikely to be able to rule alone.

They could govern in coalition with the third-place conservative CDS-PP party as they have in the past.

Whoever heads the next government will have to implement a 78-billion-euro bailout deal which followed the country’s financial crisis.

The PSD has promised to "go beyond" the demanding bailout conditions set by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in terms of privatisations and economic reforms.

"We will fulfil the agreement reached with the European Union and International Monetary Fund until the last paragraph, until the last deadline, and we will pay what was asked for in our name until the last euro," PSD leader Pedro Passos Coelho told an election rally in Lisbon on Friday.

Socrates accuses Passos Coelho of seeking to use the bailout package as an excuse to implement "the most right-wing programme ever proposed in Portugal”.

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