By Associated Press - Monday, October 15, 2018

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Four new ministers have taken office in the Portuguese government as the center-left Socialists look to freshen their administration a year before the next general election.

The officials in charge of public health, the economy, defense and culture were replaced in a reshuffle Monday.

The Socialists have been ruling as a minority government since the last election in 2015. They have had the parliamentary backing of the Portuguese Communist Party and the radical Left Bloc, easing the way for legislation.

With the economy predicted to grow 2.2 percent this year, unemployment falling to 6.8 percent and the budget deficit forecast to be 0.2 percent next year, the Socialists are strong favorites for re-election.

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