Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa re-elected: exit vote | News from Portugal

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Predictions indicate that the center-right incumbent has won a second and final five-year term.

Outgoing center-right candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has won the Portuguese presidential election, an exit poll shows.

The poll conducted by the Portuguese Catholic University’s polling center for public broadcaster RTP on Sunday indicated that Rebelo de Sousa garnered between 57 and 62 percent of the vote to secure a second and final five-year term.

To avoid a second round on February 14 against the finalist, Rebelo de Sousa, 72, had to win an absolute majority. Official results
are expected Monday evening.

Socialist candidate Ana Gomes came in second with between 13 and 16%, according to the poll.

In a startling result, newly arrived right-wing populist Andre Ventura came in third with 9-12%, according to the poll. Such a demonstration for an extremist in traditional Portuguese politics would have been unthinkable until recently.

A woman wearing a protective mask casts her ballot for the Portuguese presidential election [Pedro Nunes/Reuters]

The exit poll estimated the turnout at 45-50 percent, lower than in recent elections and apparently confirming fears that some people are not staying away for fear of being infected with COVID-19 .

The polls came as the death toll from COVID-19 broke records for the seventh consecutive day Sunday, at 275, with hospitalizations also at a record high.

The country has the world’s highest rates of new infections and daily deaths per 100,000 population, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Rebelo de Sousa, 72, a former leader of the center-right Social Democratic Party, has worked closely with the center-left minority socialist government, supporting its pandemic efforts.

He was also loved by the Portuguese with his relaxed style. Photographs taken by passers-by of him in public places, such as a year ago of him lining up in a supermarket in sneakers and shorts, regularly go viral.

With the country on lockdown, the election campaign did not feature any of the usual flag-waving rallies, but movement restrictions were lifted on election day.

Authorities increased the number of polling stations and allowed early voting to reduce overcrowding on polling day. Elsewhere, voters wearing masks were asked to bring their own pens and disinfectants to polling stations.



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