Lisbon (dpa) – Portuguese head of state Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was re-elected in the first round for a second five-year term in the presidential elections, according to media forecasts and with a huge lead.
According to a survey by the state television broadcaster “RTP”, which is considered very reliable, the conservative politician and former TV journalist and law professor (72) received between 57 and 62 percent of the vote. Five years ago he got over 52 percent.
Other TV channels and media released similar songs shortly after the last polling stations closed. To avoid a second round on February 14, the winner had to get more than 50 percent of the vote. According to forecasts, former MEP and socialist candidate Ana Gomes came in second with 13 to 16 percent ahead of the head of the right-wing populist Chega party! (Enough!), André Ventura (nine to twelve percent).
Monday evening the first significant official results were calculated. However, all media observers said in unison: “One thing is for sure: there is no second round!”
The mood was overshadowed by the dramatic worsening corona crisis in the EU country. Portugal has just been declared a high-risk corona area by Germany. The number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days was recently around 750. This is one of the highest values in the world.
Due to the pandemic, numerous politicians and other personalities had called for the postponement of the elections. In a survey commissioned by the weekly “Expresso”, 57 percent were in favor of moving. In the end, however, the turnout was forecast to be relatively good, depending on the circumstances: between 45 and 50 percent of all eligible voters flocked to the polls. This is roughly in line with the values of the presidential elections in 2011 and 2016. In Lisbon and Porto, in some cases very long lines formed.
Rebelo de Sousa, who has been in office since 2016, is considered a very close connection to the folk politician who, as head of state, likes to hug, kiss and comfort people in the streets. And when needed, he also helps: last August, the wiry Catholic in the Algarve even plunged into the sea on a whim to help rescue two women whose kayak had capsized.
But it is not only such actions that give Rebelo de Sousa recognition and prestige. He is also highly regarded for not only criticizing and controlling the left-wing government of Prime Minister António Costa, but also supporting it as a conservative politician. He attaches great importance to the political stability of the country. The partnership between Rebelo and Costa, including declaring and designing the Corona State of Emergency, has been pretty much smooth so far.
The head of state has a lot of power in Portugal. The president can rescind veto rights over laws and parliament and call new elections. For Portugal, it was the tenth presidential election since the 1974 carnation revolution.
In total, 10.86 million people were called to vote. The Portuguese living abroad are also included. The emigration country, which was last abandoned by hundreds of thousands a few years ago during the euro crisis, therefore has more voters than citizens (approximately 10.3 million).