A parliamentary vote on the government’s 2019 budget plan ended in political limbo after a small political bloc opposed the austerity measures it imposes.
The Socialist Party and the Communist Party said they would not support the bill, which was approved by a margin of 148 to 130 in a vote that was dragged out until 2 a.m. on Wednesday.
The Socialists, which have held an absolute majority in parliament since losing their leadership in 2016, said they had switched their backing to lawmakers that were backing several of their parliamentary allies. They ended the two-week parliamentary stalemate by abstaining in the vote.
“The defeat of the budget is a serious, historic precedent for this country,” Jorge Filho, the secretary-general of the Portuguese Communist Party, told reporters.
Jose Semedo, a Portuguese economist, said Portugal risked pushing itself toward “credibility violation” because of its inability to agree a budget.
The Socialists, the country’s main left-wing political party, supported a bailout in 2011 that imposed harsh austerity measures.
The party later sought to soften these measures by avoiding new tax increases while introducing pension increases.
The budget imposes pension increases, like in many other European Union countries, but takes away some of the taxes on alcohol and tobacco. This has angered some lawmakers.
“We are being treated like the poor,” Ivo Ferreira, the Socialist member of parliament who voted for the budget, told reporters after the vote.
After the vote, Socialists Party leader Antonio Costa said the budget “allied all the conditions for our country to leave” the European Union. He called for snap elections.
“This budget – based on export-oriented growth based on low employment – does not meet what is needed for a sustainable level of GDP,” Mr. Costa told reporters.
The coalition of Socialists and Prime Minister António Costa promised voters in June that it would not vote for any more austerity.
The Socialists and the ruling right-wing Democratic Alliance have alternated as the majority in parliament since 2013.
The Socialists have ruled with the center-right coalition since their swearing-in in August 2017. In September, it was dissolved after the country failed to elect a president that month, but was re-established when the Socialists formed a new government in December.