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Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho during Parliamentary debate Monday
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho during Parliamentary debate Monday

LISBON — Portugal is relearning one of the basic tenets of democracy: Majority rules.

The country's four left-leaning parties are expected to bring down the minority center-right government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho with a vote of no-confidence on Tuesday, newspaper Diário de Notícias reports.

The center-right coalition that has been governing since 2011 scored only 38.5% in the Oct. 4 general election, failing to secure a majority, even if Passos Coelho's party scored the single highest vote tally.

But when the four left-leaning parties, led by the Socialist Party of António Costa, proposed a majority government, President of the Republic Cavaco Silva unexpectedly refused to allow the coalition (which combined score was 50.7%) to rule, arguing that their commitment to reverse austerity policies, as well as the anti-Euro and anti-NATO stances of the Communist and Left Bloc parties, were a threat to the country's stability. Instead, he decided to grant Passos Coelho, 51, a second term, and a minority government.

But now that this short-lived experiment in minority government is crumbling, what's next? New elections are not an option in the near future: The Portuguese Constitution doesn't allow the President to dissolve a Parliament in its first six months, meaning months of great political and economic instability lie ahead — unless the left parties manage to convince Silva this time around to take a chance on a majority.

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Ideas

The "Good Russians" Debate Is Back — And My Rage Just Grows Deeper

A Ukrainian journalist considers the controversy over the shutting down of exiled, independent Russian television station TV Dozhd. Can Russians be opposed to Putin's war and yet support the troops?

photo of protesters holding up a sign that reads Russia is a terrorist state

An October protest in Munich

Sachelle Babbar/ZUMA
Anna Akage

-Essay-

What's been unfolding in Latvia this week is minor compared to the brutality that continues every day in Ukraine. Still, it is telling, and is forcing us to try to imagine what will happen in the future to Russia, and Russians, and the rest of us in the region.

What has been a largely respected and independent Russian television channel, TV Dozhd (TV Rain) was forced off the air in Latvia, where it's been based since being forced into exile after the war in Ukraine began, after Alexei Korostelev, one the channel's main anchors, said on live TV that Dozhd viewers could help the Russian army soldiers and urged viewers to write about mobilization violations.

Korostelev was immediately fired, and the television's management reiterated its absolute opposition to the war and repeated calls for Moscow to immediately withdraw its troops. Nonetheless, the next day Latvia — a fierce Ukraine ally — revoked the channel's license to broadcast

It is a rude return to the "good Russian" debate, which spread across independent newspapers and social media in the weeks after Moscow's invasion. What must we demand from Russians who are opposed to the war and to Vladimir Putin? Should we expect that they not only want an end to the fighting, but should also be pushing for the defeat of their own nation's military?

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