Thursday, July 01, 2004

A party of opposites

It looks like Jose Manuel Durao Barroso is leaving a terminal mess behind him for his party. Already packing his bags to take up his £177,000 a year job as commission president, Portugal's largest labour group is arranging a farewell, in the form of another party – a huge protest meeting to demand new elections

Joining the chorus are four left-wing opposition parties with representation in parliament. They also want immediate elections, despite Barroso’s party still having two years left to run.

However, it will be up to Portugal’s president, Jorge Sampaio, to make the decision. As a socialist, he comes from the opposite side of the political divide and can be expected to be sympathetic to left wing sentiment.

Since Barroso's Social Democrat-led coalition received a drubbing at the polls in the Euro-elections and trail the main opposition Socialists in the polls, Sampio might well opt for an election, rather than appoint a new prime minister, opening the way for a Socialist .

Once installed in Brussels, therefore, Barroso might well find himself having to deal with a government in his home country that is diametrically opposed to his philosophy. But he will at least be able to take comfort from the fact that he helped put it there.

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