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Portugal to Vote in Early Elections

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TEHRAN, June 5 (ICANA) – In Portugal, voters begin to cast their ballots for a new government, which is to enact a heavy bailout plan by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union.
Sunday, June 05, 2011 12:51:53 PM
Portugal to Vote in Early Elections

Some 9.6 million Portuguese are eligible to vote in Sunday's early general election, which is expected to be won by Portugal's Center-right Social Democrats (PSD) over the ruling Socialists candidate and caretaker Prime Minister Jose Socrates, Reuters reported.

Polling stations opened at 8:00 a.m. (0700 GMT) and were to close at 7:00 p.m. local time (1800 GMT), with the first official results expected some two hours later.

Although polls suggest that the PSD will win the vote, a full majority is not expected.

The new coalition government will take over following a deal with the IMF and the EU which requires Portugal to take strict austerity measures in return for a EUR 78 billion bailout.

All of Portugal's main parties have endorsed the terms of the bailout deal, which sees tax increases, a freeze on state pensions, and cuts in unemployment benefits.

With a public debt of 93 percent of gross domestic product in 2010, Portugal was the third country to succumb in the eurozone debt crisis and seek financial assistance, after Greece and Spain.

Portugal has an unemployment rate of 12 percent.

Socrates resigned as Portugal's prime minister in March, triggering early elections after the opposition in parliament rejected his minority government's fourth austerity package in less than a year.

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