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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 13:15 GMT
Portugal gets new prime minister
Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, and Paulo Portas
Barroso and Portas (right) share economic policies
Portugal's President Jorge Sampaio has nominated the leader of the centre-right Social Democratic party, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, prime minister.


I will do my utmost, my very utmost, to give the Portuguese people a government which will run its full term,

Jose Manuel Durao Barroso
The Social Democrats won the largest share of the vote in Sunday's parliamentary election, gaining 102 out of 230 seats.

The party confirmed on Thursday that it would seek to form a coalition with the conservative Popular Party, which won 14 seats.

The resulting government would have a majority of just one vote.

The current Socialist government, in power for six years, is expected to remain in office until mid-April.

An early election was called when Antonio Guterres resigned as prime minister in December, after a humiliating defeat in local elections.

"I would like to say that I will do my utmost, my very utmost, to give the Portuguese people a government which will run its full term, a strong and credible government, a government which can launch the country's recovery," Mr Barroso said after his nomination.

Coalition prospects

Popular Party leader Paulo Portas has said he is willing to discuss forming a coalition, and it is expected that they will be offered at least two seats in the cabinet.

The two parties are currently enjoying warmer relations after years of friction.

They have broadly similar economic policies, but there are some differences on social policy.

The Social Democrats have proposed a "fiscal shock" to boost growth - including cuts in corporate tax, and public spending.

The Popular Party promised in its manifesto to introduce tight limits on immigration, to lower the age at which young people can be jailed, to oblige schoolchildren to sing the national anthem every day, and to prevent any further transfer of powers to the European Union.

See also:

08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Portugal
17 Dec 01 | Europe
Portugal PM resigns
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