Voters in Portugal are going to the polls, in a general election widely seen as a verdict on the country’s handling of its economic crisis.
Analysts and academics are predicting a tight race.
Jose Socrates has been caretaker Prime Minister since he resigned in March, halfway through his second term. His austerity measures were voted down and the government collapsed. Portugal was forced to ask for a 78 billion euro EU-IMF bailout.
Polls give the centre-right Social Democat leader Pedro Passos Coelho 37 percent of the vote, compared to 31 percent for Socrates. But if this is borne out, then the Social Democrats will need to aim for a coalition, most likely with the small, centre-right CDS.
Portugal is struggling through a period of profound political and financial turmoil. Unemployment is the highest it has been for three decades and there are warnings of tax rises and harsh spending cuts to come.
Whoever wins the election faces the daunting task of restoring the country’s economic health and encouraging growth.