Portugal’s ruling socialists have widened their lead over their main opposition rivals ahead of Sunday’s general election.
It’s the last day of campaigning in what’s proved to be a tight race. However, three new opinion polls show prime minister Jose Socrates’ socialists forging in front. In spite of that, they look almost certain to be short of an absolute majority. That could create uncertainty in Portuguese politics, particularly with next year’s budget still undecided. With polls predicting such a close result the Social Democrats, led by Manuela Ferreira Leite, could still snatch power. Like the socialists, that would almost certainly mean forming coalitions with Portugal’s smaller more extreme parties — something that could prove difficult. The latest opinion polls put the ruling Socialists on around 38 percent with their centre-right rivals dropping slightly to 30. The extreme Left Bloc is also experiencing the lofty heights of around 11 percent. Led by Francisco Louca they would normally be the natural bed fellows of the socialists, but differences on economic and spending policy mean the two parties are far apart.