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Portuguese president reelected in the first round

Unsurprisingly, the Portuguese brought back the moderate conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Sunday, following a poll carried out in the midst of a health turmoil and marked by a major breakthrough by the far right.

Unsurprisingly, the Portuguese brought back the moderate conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Sunday, following a poll carried out in the midst of a health turmoil and marked by a major breakthrough by the far right.

(AFP) – The current head of state, a 72-year-old former law professor who rose to fame as a political commentator on television, won 60.7% of the vote, according to partial results covering almost -total constituencies. In his victory speech, he promised to make the fight against the pandemic his “first priority”, thanking voters for their “renewed confidence in conditions so much more difficult” than those of five years ago, when of his first election.

With 13% of the vote, the former socialist MEP Ana Gomes came in second, ahead of the far-right candidate André Ventura in extremis, who garnered 11.9% of the vote. Thanks to this result, the founder of the anti-system party “Chega” (“that’s enough”) confirms the base of the populist right in a country which has known a long fascist dictatorship, but so far seemed to be missing out on a movement. which has been emulated elsewhere in the world. This 38-year-old lawyer first created a surprise by entering Parliament during the legislative elections at the end of 2019, with a score of 1.3%, or nearly 70,000 votes.

“Progression of the ultra-right”

“For the first time, an openly anti-Sythema party broke the field of the traditional right, with nearly half a million votes”, welcomed Sunday this ally of the French Marine Le Pen and the Italian Matteo Salvini. However, he did not achieve his goal of defeating socialist Ana Gomes, who campaigned without the support of her party, or of Prime Minister Antonio Costa who heads it, by promising to block it. to Mr. Ventura. “If I had not been a candidate, we would have to regret the progress of the ultra-right even more,” said the 66-year-old former diplomat and anti-corruption activist. The abstention rate rose to 60.6%, a historic high for a presidential election since the advent of democracy in 1974.

But candidates and analysts feared an even lower participation due to the explosion of cases of coronavirus that Portugal is currently experiencing, whose ten million inhabitants have been subject for ten days to a second general confinement. According to data collected by AFP, it is the country in the world having reported in the last two weeks the highest number of contagions and deaths from covid-19 in relation to its population, surpassed only by the British enclave. from Gibraltar.

Waiting lines

After shops and restaurants, the government resolved to close schools on Friday, while a new daily death record was broken again on Sunday, bringing the total toll since the start of the pandemic to nearly 10,500 dead. Throughout the day, many voters had to queue in long lines outside the polling stations, standing at a distance before they could enter one by one. “Even if it is important to come and vote while you are in confinement, it makes no sense to leave the house and regroup with thousands of people”, regretted Luis Araujo, a voter who voted in a school in Lisbon.

At the end of the campaign, the outgoing president asked voters to mobilize to avoid a second round and “spare the Portuguese the extension of the election for three crucial weeks” to curb the epidemic. During his first term, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa cohabited without a major hitch with the minority socialist government of Antonio Costa. In Portugal, the Head of State has no executive power but plays the role of arbiter in the event of a political crisis, and he can dissolve Parliament to call early legislative elections.


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