Portugal holds key presidential vote

Centre-right Portuguese presidential candidate Marcelo Rebelo Sousa campaigning in the town of Guimaraes (22 January)Image copyright
AFP

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Marcelo Rebelo Sousa is tipped to win the Portuguese presidential election

A record 10 candidates are competing in Portuguese presidential elections with centre right politician and TV pundit Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa tipped to win.

While the post of president is mainly ceremonial, the head of state can dissolve parliament in a crisis.

A fragile coalition of left-wing parties currently governs Portugal after inconclusive elections in October.

The first results are expected at about 19:00 GMT, an hour after polls close.

Mr de Sousa, 67, is known as “Professor Marcelo” to his supporters and has been involved in politics since his youth, helping to establish the centre-right Social Democratic Party.

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AFP

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Presidential candidate Antonio Sampaio da Novoa is a professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Lisbon

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AFP

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Former health minister Maria de Belem Roseira is a steadfast opponent of more austerity for Portugal

Polls suggest he will surpass the 50% mark required for an outright win in Sunday’s voting. If none of the 10 candidates passes this threshold, a run-off will be held on 14 February.

Mr de Sousa has the support of right wing parties but says he will not be reliant on them. He has pledged to do everything he can to ensure the current government’s stability.

If elected he will succeed Anibal Cavaco Silva, a conservative who served two consecutive five-year terms.

With analysts expecting a low turnout following a low-key campaign there is still a possibility that Mr de Sousa’s two left-of-centre rivals – former university dean Antonio Sampaio da Novoa and former Socialist health minister Maria de Belem Roseira – might upset the opinion polls.

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A centre-right coalition won the most votes in October’s election but lost its overall majority in November to be replaced by an alliance of left-wing parties which rejected its programme in parliament.

Portugal was one of the countries hardest hit by the crisis in the eurozone, accepting an international bailout in exchange for sweeping cuts.

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EPA

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Presidential candidate Marisa Matias (right) is a sociologist and European MEP of the Left Bloc

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EPA

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Presidential candidate Vitorino Silva (right) slept rough with homeless people in downtown Lisbon as part of his campaign

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EPA

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Critics say the presidential campaign has been lacklustre with only half of voters expected to make it to the polls

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Reuters

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Whoever becomes president could play a crucial role in determining which party in parliament runs the country



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