Portugal goes to the polls to vote for a new president in an election dominated by the country’s need to cut its budget deficit and avoid having to go cap in hand for an international bailout.
The post of Portuguese president is largely ceremonial, but the debt crisis has focussed people’s minds on the need for a strong head of state.
Euronews correspondent Michel Santos is Lisbon for the vote:
“ The moment of truth has arrived and the Portuguese can have their say. The big question now is will incumbent Cavaco Silva avoid a second round runoff. If he does, it will add political legitimacy to a government weakened by the economic crisis.”
The latest polls put Cavaco Silva well ahead with over 60 per cent of the vote. Strangely a Cavaco Silva victory, an opposition Social Democrat, will benefit the minority Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Socrates.
Cavaco Silva, an economist by trade, has offered the government crucial support in pushing through spending cuts and tax hikes.
The ruling Socialist candidate Manuel Alegre is well behind at 20 per cent and needs something extra special to make inroads on decision day.