The president of Portugal, the conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, was re-elected last night in the first round, according to several projections made for local Portuguese television. Former socialist deputy Ana Gomes came in second place, ahead of far-right candidate André Ventura. Therefore, the forecasts of the surveys were fulfilled.
The current head of state, a former law professor who became known as a political gathering on television, would have collected between 55.5% and 62% of the votes, according to the range that emerged from the different projections. Ana Gomes would have obtained between 12.2% and 17.1%, by between 9% and 14.1% of André Ventura. In this way, the founder of the anti-system party Chega (Basta) would not have achieved his goal of being in second position, but his result seems to confirm the advance of the extreme right in a country in which this trend was still something exceptional.
The abstention rate would be between 50% and 60%, according to projections, compared to the record of 53.5% in 2011, when Rebelo de Sousa’s predecessor, Cavaco Silva, was re-elected. Analysts feared a higher abstention, of even 70%, due to the explosion of coronavirus cases in a country of 10 million inhabitants subjected to general confinement.
It is the fork in which Rebelo de Sousa can move, far above his rivals.
With 85,000 new cases and almost 1,500 deaths during the past week, Portugal ranks first in the world in the number of infected in relation to the population, surpassed only by the British enclave of Gibraltar, according to official data.
he Portuguese voted amid strict sanitary confinement to stop the advance of the coronavirus. “For those who can and want to vote, overcome your fears,” the renewed head of state declared early in the morning after having deposited his ballot in his fiefdom in Celorico de Basto, in the northern region of Minho. The Government assured last night that the vote went well throughout the country, with physical distancing, respect for sanitary rules and patience on the part of the Portuguese. “People were able to vote without problems,” he insisted.
Voters were forced to line up in front of the schools, keeping their distance and entering one by one. “It is important to come to vote despite being confined, but it does not make any sense that thousands of people get together. Exercise your right and return to your homes ”, they had recommended from the Executive.
Cleaning staff equipped with a full protective overalls disinfecting the facilities permanently was the image that was seen in all the images broadcast on national television. To stop the explosion of Covid-19 cases, the country has been plunged for ten days in a second general lockdown.
After the shops and restaurants, the Government closed the schools for fifteen days. But this Sunday a new record of cases and deaths was registered, bringing the balance since the beginning of the pandemic to 10,500 deaths.
Rebelo de Sousa had urged voters to vote for him to avoid a second round scheduled for February 14 and “the prolongation of the process for three crucial weeks” to curb the epidemic.
From star commentator to selfie statesman
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is a moderate conservative and old political fox who made his fame as a political commentator and who has cultivated an image of a head of state close to the people. He is a president patiently waiting for his turn in shorts in line at a supermarket, who does not hesitate to jump into the sea to help two young people whose kayak has capsized or to share a dinner with the homeless. The anecdotes are multiplying and have ceased to surprise the Portuguese. Naturalness and spontaneity have become the mark of the head of state, always available to have a drink with his admirers. Whether it is a fire or a national sports success, this 72-year-old man, with a lively blue gaze, is usually the first to react and even go to the scene at the wheel of his car, anticipating the socialist government or surprising people. their own environment. At ease in the circles of power as well as with the underprivileged, with his ordinary gentleman appearance, he has imposed his style of “empathetic president” who takes the time to listen and comfort people with problems. This closeness has earned him that the Portuguese refer to him by his first name.