Portugal’s opposition Socialists are on course to win a comfortable victory in Sunday’s general election. The big question is whether Jose Socrates and his party will get the absolute majority they need to push through tough economic reforms. Most opinion polls suggest they will but it all depends on floating voters and how well small parties on the right and the far left perform.
The campaign has thrown up few obvious differences between the opposition and the centre-right government. Both say they will boost growth, create jobs and hold a referendum on the European Constitution. But acting Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes looks vulnerable after effectively being sacked by the country’s president, who lost confidence in his government.Whoever wins faces the difficult task of closing a stubborn budget gap and slashing high unemployment in western Europe’s poorest country. The Portuguese are hoping that the fourth election in three years will make a real difference.