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Portugal

President Cavaco Silva backs Portugal's ruling coalition

President Anibal Cavaco Silva has said he backs Portugal's coalition government. He also ruled out a snap election as the country's weeks-long political crisis that threatened an international bailout comes to an end.

Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva makes a statement to the press at Belem presidential palace in Lisbon July 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro (PORTUGAL - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)

Portugal Präsident Anibal Cavaco Silva

"I think in the current context of national emergency, calling elections is not a solution for the problems Portugal is facing," Cavaco Silva said Sunday in an address to the nation. "I think the best solution is to keep the current government in power."

The president's speech came after attempts on Friday between Portugal's three main parties to reach a pact on pursuing political reforms proved fruitless.

"As the national salvation compromise was impossible to achieve, I consider that the best alternative solution is for the present government to remain in its functions, with reinforced guarantees of cohesion and solidity of the coalition, until the end of its term (in 2015)," Cavaco Silva said. "It is important to show our European partners that Portugal is a governable country."

The country's ruling center-right coalition nearly split earlier this month after the resignations of Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar, the architect of the budget cuts, and Foreign Minister Paulo Portas, the leader of the ruling coalition's junior party and noted austerity critic.

Their resignations threw Portugal into a political crisis, raising concerns that the country would not be able to pass the reforms necessary to receive the 78 billion euro ($102 billion) bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Portugal's austerity measures pursued as part of the bailout have plunged the country into its worst recession since the 1970s. A 2.3 percent economic contraction is expected this year and unemployment sits at more than 18 percent.

The government has already postponed the eighth review of the bailout by its creditors, which was due to start last Monday, until the end of August or early September.

dr/lw (AFP, Reuters, AP)