Exit poll suggests Socialists re-elected in Portugal | Health and fitness

By BARRY HATTON – Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Polls coming out of Portugal’s general election suggested the center-left Socialist Party won re-election on Sunday, beating its main rival, the center-right Social Democratic Party, in a a poll that took place amid a surge of COVID-19 cases blamed on the omicron variant.

A poll by the Catholic University of Portugal for public broadcaster RTP estimated that the Socialists won between 37% and 42% of the vote on Sunday, with the Social Democrats getting between 30% and 35%.

The result could potentially grant the Socialists up to 116 seats in the 230-seat parliament, giving it an overall majority to push through its legislation without forming alliances with smaller parties.

The poll did not take into account the approximately 1.5 million people, out of an electorate of 10.8 million eligible voters, who live abroad and can vote by mail.

Separate polls published by three other Portuguese TV channels also gave the Socialists victory.

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The stakes are high for the next administration: Portugal, a country of 10.3 million people and the poorest in Western Europe, is set to start deploying 45 billion euros ($50 billion) aid as a member of the European Union to help stimulate the economy. after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two-thirds of this sum is intended for public projects, such as major infrastructure, offering the next government a financial windfall. The other third must be allocated to private companies. A parliamentary majority would ease the way for the next government in allocating these funds in a country whose economy has struggled to gain ground since the turn of the century.

Sunday’s snap election was called after parliament last November rejected the minority socialist government’s spending plan for 2022.

The Socialist Party, which has governed for six years, and the Social Democratic Party are the two main parties in Portugal. They alternated in power for decades.

Chega! (That’s enough!), a populist and nationalist party founded less than three years ago, seems to have won 5 to 8% of the vote on Sunday, estimates the RTP poll. That could give him up to 13 lawmakers, down from just one in the last legislature.

The poll indicated that the Left Bloc may have won 3% to 6% of the vote, with 3% to 5% going to the Portuguese Communist Party.

Turnout was between 46% and 51%, according to the exit poll. In the last election in 2019, turnout was 48.6%.

About 1 million people over the age of 18 were housebound on Sunday due to COVID-19 infections, health authorities said. They were exceptionally allowed to go out to vote.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in a speech on the eve of the elections, urged people to vote, saying it is “a way of saying that… nothing and no one can silence our voice”.

He said the coming years would be marked by “the abandonment of a painful pandemic (and) an urgent rebuilding of the economy”.

Since coming to power in 2015, the Socialist Party has relied on the support of its small allies in parliament – ​​the Left Bloc and the Portuguese Communist Party – to ensure that the annual state budget has enough votes to pass. But two months ago their differences, particularly over public health spending and workers’ rights, were insurmountable, leaving Socialist Prime Minister António Costa short of votes to pass his party’s plan.

The Socialists have promised to raise the minimum monthly wage, earned by more than 800,000 people, to 900 euros ($1,020) by 2026. It is currently at 705 euros ($800). The Socialists also want to “start a national conversation” on working four days a week instead of five.

Portugal’s economy has lagged behind the rest of the EU27 since 2000, when its real annual gross domestic product per capita was 16,230 euros ($18,300) compared to an EU average of 22,460 (25,330 $). In 2020, Portugal had risen slightly to 17,070 euros ($19,250) while the bloc’s average jumped to 26,380 euros ($29,750).

The Social Democratic Party had pledged to cut income tax and further help private businesses, cutting corporation tax from the current 21% to 17% by 2024.

Helena Alves contributed to this report.

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