“Record abstention” forecast for Sunday’s neck-and-neck elections

With the race for power still so much “up in the air” in the last three days before the elections, Bloomberg Business is forecasting “one of the lowest turnouts since the transition to democracy in 1974”.

With “so little choice” between the main parties in the game (PSD-CDS coalition and Socialist PS), the site claims that more than 40% of the 9.6 million eligible voters “may sit out the October 4 ballot” altogether.

Quoting political science professor António Costa Pinto, “the result may prove a hollow victory for European officials seeking vindication for their austerity policies”.

“In some countries, people use their vote to express their discontent,” Pinto explained. “In Portugal, many people simply decide not to vote because they are upset or don’t believe voting will make a big difference.”

With three major football matches taking place on Sunday – involving Portugal’s ‘giants’ Benfica, Sporting and Porto – efforts now by all parties are to shake-up national apathy and exhort people into the polling booths.

History, however, shows that voter abstention has been in freefall since 1974, steadily declining from what began at less than 9%, to almost 42% in 2011.

Commenting on Bloomberg’s story, one reader said: “Abstention is a right…”

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