The ruling Socialists are expected to win today’s parliamentary elections in Portugal. But Prime Minister Jose Socrates is unlikely to regain his current majority. Polls suggest the Socialists will win about 38 percent of the vote.
The center-right Social Democrats are unlikely to close the gap with the Socialists in today’s vote. They lag about eight points behind in the polls.
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 Portugese voters.The country’s serious budget deficit means public spending cuts or tax hikes are on the agenda no matter who wins. Job creation is another major challenge in a country where unemployment has soared to its highest level since the 1980s. Like the parties of the left, Socrates see a bigger role for the government in the economy. In a televised address on the eve of the elections Portuguese President Cavaco Silva urged people to vote at, what he called, a time of great difficulty for the country.