Portugal’s election day in international spotlight

As the nation’s mainstream parties continue to stress the importance of today’s legislative elections – and after an appeal on national television last night by President Cavaco Silva for everyone to exercise their “right and duty” to vote – international observers are already predicting a win for the right-wing coalition.

Says the Guardian this morning: “Polls say government led by Pedro Passos Coelho’s Social Democrats could make eurozone history by being re-election despite imposing savage cuts”.

The New York Times also talks of Passos Coelho “nearing re-election”.

But the truth is, at midday today we were still none the wiser. Around two million people had already cast their vote, and politicians themselves were at pains to appear calm and relaxed.

Passos Coelho told SIC TV that he hoped “a significant part of Portuguese” would follow his example and register their votes “in spite of the bad weather”, while Socialist rival António Costa said he was confident that his party would emerge victorious, to bring the country “a new cycle of hope” after “many sad years”.

Deputy PM Paulo Portas was surprisingly restrained and noticeably hoarse, casting his vote early “to give an example”.

Thus, as the rain trickles down on a country that many feel has been used as an “example of austerity”, the world watches and awaits preliminary results which should start coming through by early this evening.

As the Financial Times explains a win for Passos Coelho’s government a struggling economy” “would also represent a moral triumph for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, the European Commission and others who argue that exacting fiscal discipline and tough economic reforms are the only viable means of turning round”.

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