By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates announced his resignation today after parliament rejected his minority government’s latest round of proposed austerity measures aimed at preventing the country from having to ask international institutions like the IMF for bailout loans.
Opposition leaders complained the austerity packaged raised taxes on pensioners and those with fixed incomes instead of reducing government waste.
Socrates said the rejection of the austerity package by all five opposition parties in parliament “removed from the government the conditions to govern.”
“For several months, I have fought for a cause I consider absolutely fundamental: to protect the nation: the need to avoid resorting to external aid, in order for Portugal not to end up in the same situation as Greece, or in the same situation as Ireland,” he said.
Portugal’s governmental crisis erupted just before a key EU summit on whether the bloc’s rescue fund should be raised after 2013 and other steps proposed to restore investor confidence in the eurozone’s weakest members, including Portugal.
Socrates’s rejected austerity package was the fourth presented by his government within 11 months. He had been trying to lower the budget deficit to 4.6 percent of GDP this year from 7.3 percent in 2010 and 9.4 percent in 2009.