Portugal president meets speaker, no poll date yet

LISBON, March 28 Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:35am EDT

LISBON, March 28 (Reuters) - Portugal's president met parliament's speaker Jaime Gama on Monday as part of consultations to decide on calling a snap election, with no date yet set for a key Council of State meeting he has to summon first.

The political crisis following Prime Minister Jose Socrates' resignation last week prompted Standard & Poor's and Fitch to downgrade Portugal's credit ratings, with S&P warning it could downgrade it further this week.

Portuguese debt yields soared to new record highs above 8 percent on Monday -- a cost of funding that is widely viewed as unsustainable -- as investors consider a bailout for the debt-ridden country as all but inevitable.

"We talked about the political situation and the calendar of decisions to be taken," Gama told reporters after the meeting with President Anibal Cavaco Silva, declining to elaborate.

"It's a difficult moment for our economy, for the lives of the Portuguese and we all have to be responsible in the face of this situation," he said.

Cavaco Silva is expected to summon his Council of State advisory body this week, after which he should dissolve parliament and call an election. Socrates retains full powers until the president's decision.

On Friday, the leaders of the main political parties urged the president to call a snap election in late May or early June, rejecting the option of a coalition cabinet. [ID:nLDE72O21B]

Portugal has a large volume of debt maturing in the next few months. Most economists agree Lisbon should be able to repay around 4.3 billion euros ($6.05 billion) of bonds falling due on April 15. There is another payment of 4.9 billion euros in June. (Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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