Abstention worries as Portugal’s “Big Three” to play on election day

Portugal’s election commission (CNE) has expressed “concern” over the likely number of lost votes that will come from the fact that Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting – the country’s three largest football teams – are scheduled to play on election day, October 4.

“For the first time since there have been free and democratic elections in the country, there are important sporting events scheduled for election day,” CNE spokesperson João Almeida told Rádio Renascença.

It may be just a coincidence, says Almeida, but one that is “worrying” for anyone interested in “citizenship and the legitimacy of a government”.

The spokesperson admits that while “there is no legal ban” on matches taking place on election day, CNE “always asks for these initiatives not be held, as they pull lots of people and can bolster abstention levels”.

Even without football matches, abstention reached a staggering 41.9% in the last legislative elections in 2011. In 2009, 40.3% didn’t show up to vote.

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