E.C. President does not advise Portuguese referendum in light of current crisis

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Monday, December 6, 2004

LISBON – The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, said holding a referendum on acceding to the European Constitution in Portugal is inadvisable, in light of the current political crisis in that country.

"A political crisis is surely not the best moment to discuss the European Constitution", Barroso said to the press outside a colloquium about European Identity in Lisbon.

The E.C. President refused to comment on the current situation in Portugal, but admitted to have been "surprised" by the Portuguese President's decision to call for new elections, ending the government's term a full year early.

Barroso was the former Prime Minister of the current Portuguese government and leader of the ruling PSD party. He stepped down to accept the nomination for President of the European Commission, favouring current Prime-Minister Pedro Santana Lopes as his successor.

The Portuguese President, Jorge Sampaio, announced his intention to dissolve the Parliament on Tuesday, November 30 and call for new elections. The decision is not yet final but should be settled no later than Friday, after the President has had an opportunity to consult political parties and others concerned. While it awaits the President's decision, the Parliament will vote on the new State Budget for 2005 today, amid protests from the opposition.

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