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Portugal’s president set to win re-election despite pandemic hitches

Portuguese voters are choosing their next president, with incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa heading into Sunday's election as the favourite by a wide margin - although the raging coronavirus pandemic could still upset expectations.

Portuguese voters are choosing their next president, with incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa heading into Sunday’s election as the favourite by a wide margin – although the raging coronavirus pandemic could still upset expectations.

Surveys show Rebelo de Sousa expected to get 70 per cent of the vote for a second term. But, although the president seems to enjoy a personal touch with voters, there are concerns in his camp that the pandemic could suppress turnout and cause an upset.

For example, given the risks of heading outdoors and reports that Rebelo de Sousa is set to win, there is some concern his voters might opt to stay home. Authorities have sought to counter such upsets by lifting a day-long curfew during polling.

Politics watchers still say it is unlikely that the election will head to a run-off, since that would mean one of the six other candidates somehow pushed Rebelo de Sousa’s returns below 50 per cent. Nonetheless, worries about an extremist candidate linger.

Early estimates are expected fairly quickly after polls close and those have tended to be reliable in the past. Nonetheless, official results are not expected until late on Monday.

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