Portugal’s ruling conservatives won Sunday’s parliamentary elections but failed to get an absolute majority.
The Portugal Ahead alliance of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho received 38.5 per cent of the votes, while the main opposition Socialist Party had 32.4 per cent.
With 99 per cent of the ballots counted, the premier’s party appeared to have 100 seats in the 230-member parliament, well short of the 116 it would need for a majority.
“We interpret the results with humility,” Passos Coelho said. “We failed to reach a majority in parliament.”
That could force him to compromise on his harsh austerity policies, instituted after a 2011 financial sector bailout by the European Union and the International Monteray Fund.
The elections were regarded as a referendum on the austerity plan, and the results were mixed.
A minority government will find governing difficult. No minority administration has managed to complete a full term since the fascist dictatorship was overthrown and in 1974.