The main political parties in Portugal are running a close race ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections. According to the latest opinion polls the ruling Socialists have extended their lead over the opposition. But they are still short of an absolute majority in parliament.The Socialists have gained several points from last week. That puts them around eight points ahead of their nearest rival the Social Democrats. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates said, “Our party is not sure of victory. We call on everybody to vote for the Socialist Party because we are certain we deserve this electoral victory.” Some observers do not completely rule out a victory for Social Democrat leader Manuela Ferreira Leite, the so called Iron Lady of Portuguese politics. A close result could make governing difficult and force the Socialists to reach accommodation with the center right Social Democrats. The Socialists natural allies on social issues are the Left Bloc, but the two parties are far apart on economic policies and public spending.
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