Portugal chooses a president amid a severe pandemic surge

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

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, 72, is thought to be the clear front-runner amongst seven candidates. He is an affable, approachable regulation professor and former tv persona who as president has persistently had an approval ranking of 60% or extra.

To win, a candidate should seize greater than 50% of the vote. But a severe surge in coronavirus infections in current days might hold 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 latest day by day infections and deaths, in accordance with a tally by Johns Hopkins University, and the general public well being system is underneath big pressure.

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

Among the 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, doubtless far behind Rebelo de Sousa however drawing a degree of help 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 Party, 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 type. Photographs taken by passers-by of him in public locations, similar 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 dwelling overseas. Exit polls have been to be printed Sunday evening, with most outcomes anticipated by midnight.

Every 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 put up.

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