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Portugal chooses a president amid a severe pandemic surge

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

The pinnacle 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 regulation professor and former tv persona who as president has persistently had an approval score 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 might maintain turnout low and maybe result in a runoff between the 2 prime 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 day by day infections and deaths, in line with a tally by Johns Hopkins College, and the general public well being system is below big pressure.

With the nation in lockdown, the election marketing campaign featured not one of the regular 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 Andre Ventura has attracted curiosity as the primary extremist to interrupt into Portuguese mainstream politics. Ventura, 37, might conceivably place second, probably far behind Rebelo de Sousa however drawing a stage of assist that till not too long ago was unthinkable. That improvement has unsettled nationwide politics.

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

Portugal has 10.eight million registered voters, some 1.5 million of them residing overseas. Exit polls had been to be printed Sunday night time, 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 lady or member of an ethnic minority has ever held the put up.

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