* President meeting political parties to overcome crisis
* Opposition Socialists want snap election, new bailout
* Head of bank body says stability needed to help banks
return to bond market
LISBON, July 9 Portugal needs political
stability to complete its aid programme but must also focus on
bouncing back quickly from recession, the minister appointed to
coordinate economic policy said on Tuesday.
Paulo Portas, who heads junior coalition party CDS-PP,
resigned as foreign minister last week, sparking a political
crisis that threatened both the government and the
78-billion-euro bailout that Portugal is due to exit next year.
In his first public comments since then, Portas said
conditions for political stability were in place, which were
"important not only for the government but also for the
conclusion of the aid package."
Portas has been a frequent critic of the increasingly
unpopular austerity measures forced on Portugal under the terms
of the rescue, which have plunged the country into three years
of recession and pushed unemployment to record highs near 18
Prime Minister Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho named
Portas as deputy prime minister and coordinator of economic
policy on Saturday in an effort to break the political deadlock.
Portas, speaking after meeting with President Anibal Cavaco
Silva, also said the priority now was to move the country
towards a "cycle that boosts the economy, companies, job
creation and social cohesion".
The president is meeting with political parties, business
leaders and labour groups this week to ensure the crisis can be
Antonio Jose Seguro, the head of the main opposition
Socialists, met the president after Portas and urged the country
to hold snap elections. He also said it needed a new bailout
programme due to the failure of current austerity policies.
"The country is confronted with the necessity to negotiate a
new programme, a precautionary one or something else," Seguro
The Socialists are ahead in opinion polls, though the next
national elections are not due until 2015, well after the
bailout's scheduled end.
Cavaco Silva has the constitutional power to dissolve
parliament and call new elections.
Separately, the head of the country's banking association
(APB) said the political crisis needed to be resolved swiftly so
a strong government and the country's credibility could be
restored, allowing its banks a way back into bond markets where
they could raise much-needed financing.