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Pro-austerity government wins election in Portugal

Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader and Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho (L) and coalition leader of the Popular Party Paulo Portas congratulate each other at the end of their joint press conference in Lisbon after winning the general elections on October 4, 2015. (AFP)

The ruling political party of Portugal, notorious for its pro-austerity policies, has won the national parliamentary elections, official results said.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho announced Sunday that he was "ready" to form a government.

"We will inform the president of the republic that we are ready to form a government," Passos Coelho told supporters in the capital Lisbon.

Since 2011, the government has implemented harsh austerity measures to shore up the ailing economy of Portugal.

The country was under pressure to do so at the time as a condition for a 78-billion-euro ($88 billion) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The opposition leader and the Socialist Party leader Antonio Costa speaks with reporters after the official results of the elections in Portugal were announced on Sunday. (AFP)

The election was seen by many as a referendum on four more years of public spending cuts, as the governing coalition had vowed to continue its financial policies.

The opposition led by left-wing groups had criticized the spending cuts, claiming that the economy was better now and there was no need for more austerity measures. The opposition cites that unemployment has been falling for the past two and a half years.

However, the center-right government regards the economic recovery as fragile, and plans to continue spending cuts.

Although the government of Portugal gets another four years in power, the election results showed that it did not win an absolute majority, which means it has to share power with the opposition.

In May 2014, Portugal exited its bailout program ahead of schedule. After a three-year recession, its economy returned to timid growth last year.

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