UPDATE 1-Portugal parliament rejects govt no-confidence vote

* Communist-proposed motion over austerity rejected

* PSD criticises government, but on board on austerity

(Adds quotes, details)

By Andrei Khalip

LISBON, May 21 (BestGrowthStock) – Portugal’s parliament rejected a
no-confidence motion against the minority Socialist government
on Friday as the main opposition party, the centre-right PSD,
abstained in the largely symbolic vote, as expected.

The motion, proposed by the Communist Party in protest
against the government’s austerity drive aimed at cutting a
ballooning budget deficit, needed more than a half of the votes
in the 230-seat parliament to succeed, but only 31 left-wing
lawmakers backed it.

The centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) has promised
to support the austerity measures in parliament and to avoid
political instability as investors fret over Portugal’s
creditworthiness amid Greece’s debt crisis.

It was the first no-confidence motion faced by the
centre-left government after Prime Minister Jose Socrates’
re-election in September.

The right-wing CDS-PP party also abstained. The Communists,
who in alliance with the Greens make up the smallest group in
parliament, backed the motion, as did the Left Bloc.

Addressing parliament before the vote, Socrates labelled the
Communists’ proposal “profoundly irresponsible” and defended the
austerity measures that include tax hikes and spending cuts.

“The measures taken are difficult and demanding, but they
are necessary to protect the national interests. Portugal needs
to accelearte the process of deficit reduction,” he said.

Calling the defeat of the motion a “victory of the sense of
responsibility and political stability”, Socrates still chided
the two parties on the right for abstaining, saying they “miss a
sovereign opportunity to be totally clear in rejecting
opportunism and political instability”.

PSD bench leader Miguel Macedo said Portugal “cannot afford
the luxury of adding a political crisis to a very serious
financial and economic crisis”, even though the government did
deserve to be censured on various accounts.

“The government is guilty of the serious financial and
economic situation we’re in … But ousting the government on
this occasion would have disastrous consequences,” he said.

Communist leader Jeronmo de Souza said it was the
government’s lack of responsibility that concerned his party.

“If there is irresponsibility, it is by those who led the
country to stagnation and crisis via the destruction of national
production,” which he said had caused a rise in the foreign
account deficit.
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(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

UPDATE 1-Portugal parliament rejects govt no-confidence vote