António Costa achieves arguable win in last night’s TV debate with PM Passos Coelho

António Costa has been named in a poll as the arguable winner of last night’s TV debate which saw him go head-to-head with his archnemesis, Portuguese PM Pedro Passos Coelho, less than a month away from the country’s general elections.

In a nutshell, the debate saw António Costa constantly on the offensive, criticising his rival’s government for “lying” to the Portuguese people with “unfulfilled promises and dodgy data”, while Passos Coelho insisted that Portugal needs a “stable government” and will go down a dark road if the Portuguese people hand over the power to another socialist and “experimental” government.

“Families are filled with anguish by the possibility that what has been achieved will be put at risk,” he said.

“For most Portuguese, António Costa represents uncertainty,” added Coelho, who constantly tried to link PS to their disgraced former leader José Sócrates, currently under house arrest for suspicions of corruption.

But Costa continued on with his anti-austerity stance, saying that “the Portuguese have two very clear choices: continue with austerity policies and vote for the rightist coalition, or turn away from continuity and vote for the Socialists”.

Few things were said, however, about what both candidates’ plans are for when they take office.

With sharp accusations being tossed from both sides of the fence and José Sócrates’ name being mentioned more than 10 times, it has been nearly impossible to name a winner, with opinions hugely divided amongst political commentators, the media and citizens.

However, a Correio da Manhã and Aximage poll saw Costa crowned the victor, with 48% of readers’ votes ahead of Passos (35.7%). The remaining 16.3% were not convinced by either of the two primary candidates.

Whether Costa has gained more likely votes with his arguable win in the debate is still unsure.

Hours before the debate, the coalition Portugal à Frente (PSD/CDS-PP) was leading as the favorite party with 38.9% of votes, well ahead of PS (33.3%), in a poll by Aximage.

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