President Anibal Cavaco Silva will serve a second five year term as Portugal’s head of state, with his second consecutive first-round victory. It was even more conclusive than his win in 2006, but based on a turnout of only 47.5 percent, a historic low.
Some 9.6 million people were eligible to vote, but the ballot was marred mid-afternoon when a computer crash immobilised polling stations for over two hours, which may have weakened the turnout even more.
“I will be an active president, and I’ll loyally cooperate with every branch of the state to support the major national strategies. In the immediate future, the priorities will be to fight the cancer of unemployment, contain our foreign debt, and reinforce the competitiveness of our economy,” he said in his victory address.
President Anibal Cavaco Silva served for a decade as prime minister in the 1980s and 90s. He thus repeats the feat in the largely ceremonial position. But it is a position that has become more important with a minority Socialist government.
The margin of victory over the Socialist-backed main contender, poet Manuel Alegre, was crushing, with Alegre even unable to reproduce his score of five years ago.
He in any case is a critic of his party’s austerity policies and had criticised Prime Minister Jose Socrates before and during the campaign.
However there was a warning beyond the low turnout for Portugal’s political class; nearly five percent of voters returned blank slips in the ballot boxes. Few seem to think their leaders have any answers for the economic mess they find themselves in.