Rebelo wins Portugal's presidential election in first round

Conservative law professor and journalist Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa won Portugal's presidential election on Sunday, winning a majority of the vote in the first round, according to the election commission.

Rebelo de Sousa, had 52 per cent of the votes cast with 99 per cent of the votes counted, the country's election authority said.

State broadcaster RTP and the Catholic University of Lisbon had earlier projected a victory for Rebelo.

The outcome means Rebelo, 67, will avoid a run-off scheduled to take place on February 14.

The projections put Antonio Sampaio da Novoa, the socialist-oriented long-time rector of the University of Lisbon, in second with between 22 and 25 per cent of the vote.

After serving two terms in office, current President Anibal Cavaco Silva is obliged to step down on March 9. The president in Portugal has the power to veto legislation, dissolve parliament and call new elections.

Portugal's economy returned to growth in 2014, three years after receiving a 78-billion-euro (84-billion-dollar) bailout programme from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Rebelo de Sousa's populist style drew attention during the election campaign and he pulled ahead of opponents in pre-election polls. Although he belongs to the liberal opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), he assured voters repeatedly that he would support the young, left-wing government of socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

But he also warned that the planned softening of a reform and austerity programme should not occur at the expense of budget discipline. The EU country, which has received international assistance through loans and other support for years, still has no budget for 2016.

Costa's government however has promised that it aims to comply with a deficit that is 2.6 per cent of economic output or less as mandated by Brussels.

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 15:01
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