A centre-right candidate has recorded an emphatic victory in Portugal’s presidential election, collecting more than half of the vote against nine rivals as voters picked a counterweight to Portugal’s centre-left Socialist government. With 98% of the votes counted, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a veteran politician and law professor, won 52.4% of the vote share on Sunday to capture the mostly ceremonial post. His nearest rival had less than half of that and his opponents conceded quickly. Rebelo de Sousa will move into the head of state’s riverside pink palace in Lisbon on 9 March, replacing Anibal Cavaco Silva, who has served the maximum of two five-year terms.
Portugal’s presidential election could go to a runoff, exit polls indicated, with a veteran centre-right politician getting double the votes of his nearest rival but perhaps narrowly failing to capture the mostly ceremonial post. A runoff between the two front-runners would be held on 14 February.
If needed, Rebelo de Sousa would likely take on Antonio Sampaio da Novoa, a former university dean close to the centre-left government who was expected to get from 22%- 25% of the vote, according to the public broadcaster.
A poll by public broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa indicated that Rebelo de Sousa won from 49%- 54% of the vote, easily defeating nine rivals but possibly falling short of capturing the more than 50% needed to be elected immediately.