How to pull defeat from the jaws of victory in one easy lesson; look no further than Portugal.
After the resignation of both finance and foreign minister last week, Prime Minister Paolo Passos Coelho salvaged things by making the latter – Paulo Portas – his deputy and putting him in charge of dealing with the country’s EU/IMF/ECB lenders.
That could have created tensions and problems but we never got to find out because the president then rocked the political class to its foundations by throwing the deal out.
Instead he demanded a sort of grand coalition to unite behind the bailout programme, including the opposition Socialists who are distinctly cool about the government’s austerity drive and have been calling for snap elections.
The troika of international lenders were due back for a review next week but have been put off until the end of August to buy time to try and sort the mess out. Lisbon could be forced to negotiate a second bailout if stability does not return quickly. Passos Coelho will speak in a regular parliamentary debate this morning and hold further talks with party leaders.