Portugal chooses a president amid a extreme pandemic surge


LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal held a presidential election Sunday, with the reasonable incumbent candidate strongly favored to earn a second five-year time period as a devastating COVID-19 surge grips the European Union nation.

The top of state in Portugal has no legislative powers, which lie with parliament and the federal government, however is an influential voice within the operating of the nation.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, 72, is considered the clear front-runner amongst seven candidates. He’s an affable, approachable legislation professor and former tv character who as president has constantly had an approval ranking of 60% or extra.

To win, a candidate should seize greater than 50% of the vote. However a extreme surge in coronavirus infections in latest days may preserve turnout low and maybe result in a runoff between the 2 high candidates, which might happen on Feb. 14. Portugal has elevated polling stations and allowed for early voting to scale back crowding on election day.

Portugal has the world’s highest charges of recent each day infections and deaths, based on a tally by Johns Hopkins College, and the general public well being system is beneath large pressure.

With the nation in lockdown, the election marketing campaign featured not one of the traditional flag-waving rallies or different giant public occasions, although restrictions on motion had been lifted for polling day. Voters had been requested to take their very own pen and disinfectant to polling stations.

Among the many incumbent’s six challengers, right-wing populist André Ventura has attracted curiosity as the primary extremist to interrupt into Portuguese mainstream politics. Ventura, 37, may conceivably place second, possible far behind Rebelo de Sousa however drawing a degree of help that till lately was unthinkable. That growth has unsettled nationwide politics.

Rebelo de Sousa, a former chief of the center-right Social Democratic Celebration, has labored carefully with the center-left minority Socialist authorities, supporting its pandemic efforts. He additionally has endeared himself to the Portuguese together with his easygoing model. Images taken by passers-by of him in public locations, equivalent to one final yr of him standing in line at a grocery store sporting sneakers and shorts, routinely go viral.

Portugal has 10.8 million registered voters, some 1.5 million of them residing overseas. Exit polls had been to be revealed Sunday evening, with most outcomes anticipated by midnight.

Each Portuguese president since 1976, when common suffrage was launched following the departure of a dictatorship, has been returned for a second time period. No girl or member of an ethnic minority has ever held the submit.

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