Key minister quits as crisis grips Portugal coalition

Paulo Portas in an image from April 2013 Mr Portas is seen here in a photo from April

A key figure in Portugal's centre-right coalition, Foreign Minister Paulo Portas, has quit government just a day after the finance minister.

Mr Portas, head of the coalition's junior party, had been given the task of overseeing cuts after Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar quit on Monday.

In his resignation letter, Mr Portas said he disagreed with Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's austerity path.

Portugal is struggling to meet the terms of its 78bn euro bailout in 2011.

The country has been in recession for two years and the economy is expected to contract by 2.3% this year.

Start Quote

The outlook for the government now looks bleak - not to mention that for the economy”

End Quote

Last week a general strike brought public transport to a halt.

'I disagree'

The prime minister's choice of Treasury Secretary Maria Luis Albuquerque to replace Mr Gaspar was interpreted by many as meaning he intended to press ahead with cuts.

"The prime minister has chosen to maintain its path at the finance ministry," Mr Portas said in his letter.

"I respect this choice but I disagree. I expressed this view to the prime minister who nevertheless confirmed his choice."

To remain in the government would be an "act of simulation... neither politically viable nor desirable", he added.

Mr Portas has in the past objected to plans to raise taxes on pensioners.

It was not immediately clear what effect the resignation would have on relations between Mr Portas's party, the CDS-PP, and the prime minister's Social Democrats.

The coalition has been in power for two years.

Mr Gaspar, the man seen as the architect of austerity in Portugal, said in his own resignation letter that he was leaving because of the growing erosion of public support for austerity measures.

More on This Story

More Europe stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Older ladyAge of happiness

    A Russian photographer documents inspirational seniors who are refusing to grow old


  • Robbie RogersHARDtalk Watch

    Gay footballer Robbie Rogers on locker room homophobia and the ‘pack mentality’ in soccer

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.