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Portugal goes to polls

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Portugal goes to polls

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Voters in Portugal are casting their ballots in an election, that will decide who governs the country. The ruling Socialists are expected to win the vote, but Prime Minister Jose Socrates is unlikely to regain his current majority.

Polls suggest the Socialists will win about 38 percent of the vote. Their main rivals, the center-right Social Democrats, are unlikely to close the gap. They lag about eight points behind the Socialists in the polls. Due to the country’s serious budget deficit, public spending cuts or tax hikes are on the agenda no matter who wins. Job creation is another major challenge. Unemployment has soared to its highest level since the 1980s. The Social Democrats say the face of the government must change. But critics say the party’s leader, 68-year old former finance minister Manuela Ferreira Leite, lacks charisma and her conservative image is also considered a handicap with the Portugese voters. Around nine million people are expected to vote, during what the President is calling a time of great difficulty for the country.