Clear majority in elections: Portuguese keep their president

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Clear majority in the election
Portuguese keep their president

He waits at the supermarket checkout in Bermuda shorts, shares his meal with homeless people and saves two girls from the sea: it is hardly surprising that Portugal's 72-year-old president is popular. Now he can take on another term – and fight against the unleashed corona virus.

The popular Conservative incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was confirmed in office in the presidential election in Portugal. After counting almost all ballot papers, the 72-year-old received 61.6 percent of the vote. The socialist candidate Ana Gomes came with 12.2 percent, followed by the right-wing populist André Ventura with 11.9 percent. Since Rebelo de Sousa won an absolute majority, a second round of voting is not necessary.

Despite the corona lockdown, voter turnout was not as low as feared. In the capital Lisbon, queues formed in front of the polling stations shortly after they opened, and voters were only allowed in individually to contain the corona pandemic.

A total of 9.8 million Portuguese were called to vote, 1.5 million of them abroad. So far, all four presidents in Portugal since the end of the dictatorship in 1976 have been re-elected for a second term.

President of Anecdotes

Portugal is groaning under a recent extreme increase in corona infections. This is largely attributed to the spread of the particularly contagious corona mutant B.1.1.7, which was initially found in Great Britain. A second lockdown has been in effect nationwide for a week and a half; almost all shops, restaurants and now schools are closed. Because of the worrying infection situation, the traditional final spurt of the election campaign was canceled.

The moderately conservative president works in harmony with the head of the minority government, the socialist António Costa. There are also many sympathetic anecdotes about him: that he patiently waits at the supermarket checkout in Bermuda shorts for his turn, that he shares his meal with the homeless and that he jumped into the sea to meet two girls whose boat had overturned to rush to help.

The Portuguese head of state has few powers, but can dissolve parliament for early elections. He is elected for five years, with a maximum of two terms of office.

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