At the beginning of December 2004, President Sampaio prematurely dissolved parliament; in the elections in February 2005, the Socialists achieved an absolute majority for the first time under their new party leader J. Sócrates. In January 2006, Cavaco became Silva elected President. In February 2007, in a controversial referendum in which only 46% of all eligible voters took part, almost 60% of the electorate voted for a relaxation of the abortion law. Despite violent protests from a. On the part of the conservative People’s Party and the Church, parliament passed a corresponding legislative reform in March 2007. The Sócrates government adopted a strict reform course in other areas as well, for example raising the retirement age and modernizing the public service and the education system. The Lisbon Treaty was signed in 2007 during the Portuguese EU Council Presidency. The conservative president appealed against the new divorce law passed by parliament in July 2008, which provided for a departure from the principle of guilt Cavaco Silva vetoed in August. On October 10th, 2008, the parliament approved a new proposal, which was the same in substance, but rejected a bill to legalize same-sex marriages. Another point of contention between the government and the president was the enlargement of the autonomous status of the Azores, approved by the regional government and parliament.

In the parliamentary elections on September 27, 2009, the PS lost an absolute majority and only received 97 of the 230 seats. The share of the vote fell from 45.5% to 36.6%. The CDS – PP was the new third party among the winners of the election with 10.4% of the votes. J. Sócrates remained head of government at the head of a minority cabinet that concentrated on combating the consequences of the global economic and financial crisis. In March 2010 Sócrates put proposed a “stability and growth plan” to contain the budget deficit. In May 2010 the government passed the Stability Pact with the approval of the Social Democrats. The reform measures included, inter alia. the increase in VAT from 21% to 23%, the freezing of pensions for 2.3 million Portuguese and wage cuts between 3.5% and 10% for nearly 700,000 civil servants. The tough austerity program triggered a general strike on November 24, 2010. On January 23, 2011 the population confirmed Cavaco Silva with 52.9% of the votes in the first ballot in the presidential office. The dissatisfaction with the political development manifested itself on March 12, 2011 in large demonstrations in Lisbon and Porto. After another government austerity program failed to find a parliamentary majority on March 23, 2011, Prime Minister Sócrates announced his resignation. In April 2011, the country applied for financial aid from the euro rescue package. In May 2011, Portugal agreed with the EU, ECB and IMF on a rescue package worth 78 billion euros.

According to petsinclude, the bourgeois PSD, led by Father Passos Coelho , emerged as the strongest force from early elections on June 5, 2011. He won 108 of 230 parliamentary seats. The Socialist Party lost 23 seats and only got 74 seats. Passos Coelho formed a right-wing coalition of the PSD and CDS – PP, which had won 24 seats. On June 15, 2011, Passos Coelho was sworn in as the new head of government. Paulo Portas (* 1962), the chairman of the CDS-PP, took over the office of foreign minister. The newly elected government announced an intensive austerity program in October 2011, including a cut in Christmas bonuses, longer working hours and massive cuts in the health and education sectors. The savings plans sparked violent protests across the country. The drastic measures led to a shrinking economy and a sharp rise in unemployment. On September 7, 2012, Prime Minister Passos Coelho announced further measures to consolidate state finances. A few days later the troika from the EU extended the ECB and IMF revised the recovery plan for Portugal by one year. According to this, the budget deficit should not be reduced to 3% of economic output until 2014. In mid-October 2012, the new savings plan for 2013 was announced, which provided for massive tax increases. Parliament approved the increases on November 27, 2012.

Again and again there were protests against government policy. On February 11, 2012, around 300,000 people demonstrated in Lisbon. On March 22nd, 2012, a general strike paralyzed the country. The protest was directed at the rising number of unemployed and wage cuts. On September 15, 2012, there were demonstrations in around 40 cities against the government’s drastic austerity measures. Two people were arrested; a protester set fire to himself in Aveiro. After the mass protests, on September 23, 2012 the government decided not to increase the social security contributions for employees. Another general strike followed on November 14, 2012. In March 2013 around 1.5 million people demonstrated against the austerity measures and in favor of new elections. On April 5, 2013, the Constitutional Court declared parts of the 2013 budget to be unconstitutional. On June 27th Another general strike took place in 2013. The resignation of the finance minister Vitor Gaspar (* 1960) due to the lack of public support for austerity policies triggered a government crisis and turbulence on the financial markets in July 2013. Foreign Minister Paulo Portas had also announced his resignation out of dissatisfaction with the appointment of Maria Luís Albuquerque (* 1967) as the new finance minister. However, Prime Minister Passos Coelho did not accept the resignation in order to avoid a break in the coalition and new elections. Finally, Passos Coelho and Portasagreed to continue the government work. The position of Portas strengthened as part of a cabinet reshuffle on July 24, 2013. He took over the post of deputy head of government and was given responsibility for the coordination of economic policy and relations with the troika made up of the EU, ECB and IMF. The newly formed cabinet survived a vote of confidence in parliament on July 30, 2013.

Portugal History - The Third Republic 2

Portugal History – The Third Republic Part II
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