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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