In the midst of a strict sanitary confinement to stop the advance of the coronavirus, the Portuguese vote this Sunday to elect a president for the next five years. Although the current president, the conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, is emerging as the clear favorite, the big question is the participation rate when the virus in Portugal is out of control. However, and to deny the omens that predicted a high abstention days ago, the Portuguese newspaper Public This noon gave an influx to the polls of 17%, two points above the last presidential elections of 2016 and five of those held in 2011 (13%).
We will have to wait for the polls to close at eight in the afternoon local time (one hour less in mainland Spain) to know if Rebelo de Sousa revalidates his mandate or if he is forced to go to a second round if he does not exceed the threshold of the 50% of the vote, which would be a great unprecedented victory for the emerging ultra-right deputy André Ventura.
Prime Minister António Costa has encouraged the population to cast their vote despite the threat of the pandemic, while recalling the need to comply with the security regulations stipulated when it comes to containing the spread of the covid -19. “Voting is a fundamental right and an exercise of citizenship. Not doing it is letting others decide our future ”said Costa through a message on his Twitter account. The prime minister recalled that the elections are taking place between unprecedented security measures, with disinfection equipment in all polling stations in the country. The day is proceeding normally and all voting centers are open. Many see long lines, but the waiting time is not too long, according to reports Public.
Rebelo de Sousa, who was one of the first to vote in a school in the city of Celorico de Basto, declared that he “faces these elections without nervousness.” The polls give him between 58% and 62% of the votes. By far, Ventura is the second most voted candidate (around 12% or 13%) in a situation of technical tie with the socialist Ana Gomes, who has also been among the first to vote.
Ventura is an anomalous figure in the politics of Portugal, a country that had distinguished itself by avoiding the presence of the extreme right that has marked European politics in recent years. Two years after the creation of the Chega! (Enough!), The containment dam seems to register its first cracks, marking the end of Portuguese exceptionalism.
The case of the socialist Ana Gomes is unusual: it is presented with the support of two other parties, People-Animals-Nature (PAN) and Livre, since the prime minister and socialist leader, António Costa, has eluded backing her. The rest of the seven candidates does not exceed 10%.
“Voting is safe”
The elections are marked by new records of deaths and infections of coronavirus, with lines of ambulances at the entrance of hospitals in the day of reflection. The country is the world leader in deaths and new infections per million inhabitants, according to data from the University of Oxford, and lives on the brink of health collapse. This Saturday it exceeded the 10,000 death barrier since the pandemic began and registered more than 15,000 infections in the last 24 hours. About 10 million people (one and a half million of them abroad) are called to go to the polls. “Voting is safe”, say signs placed in different parts of the towns, among other places, in the Lisbon Metro, in which it is reported that it will be mandatory to wear a mask, maintain a safe distance in the queue, disinfect hands and, if possible, that voters bring their own pen.
In addition, extraordinary measures have been taken for these elections, such as allowing mobility between municipalities to vote during this election Sunday – something prohibited on weekends – and expanding early voting.