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Portugal poll suggests PM would win majority in Oct. 6 election

Portugal poll suggests PM would win majority in Oct. 6 election
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LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s ruling Socialists have extended their big lead in an opinion poll five weeks before an Oct. 6 parliamentary election, the latest edition of the survey showed on Saturday, suggesting Prime Minister Antonio Costa could win his first full majority.

The survey by pollster Pitagorica for TSF radio and the Jornal de Noticias newspaper put the centre-left Socialists on 43.6% of voting intentions, up from 43.2% a month ago, leaving the main opposition Social Democrats well behind at just 20.4%.

The Socialists’ score was among the highest they have had in any recent survey, most of which give them support ratings closer to 37-38%, meaning they would still have to rely on at least one ally in parliament to be able to pass legislation.

They have governed over the past four years with the help of two far-left parties.

Under Portugal’s proportional representation voting system, a full parliament majority is theoretically achievable with 42% of the vote, although the cut-off is usually around 44%-45%.

Majority rule for the Socialists, or a pact with one ally instead of two, could help the government to maintain policies to balance the budget and attract more foreign investment.

Costa earlier this week ruled out forming a coalition with the hard left if his party falls shy of a majority and indicated that he favoured a continuation of the current pact in parliament with the Communists and the Left Bloc.

Left Bloc rose to 10% of voting intentions, according to the poll, while the Communist Party was little changed at 6.6%.

Since the last election, a potential new kingmaker has emerged, the People-Animals-Nature party (PAN), which recently won a seat in the European Parliament and, according to some polls, could take more than 4% of the vote in the Oct. 6 election, although Pitagorica put their support lower at 3.2%.

Costa’s government has received praise from the European Union and investors for combining fiscal discipline with economic growth and a reversal of some austerity measures applied under Portugal’s 2011-14 international bailout.

Pitagorica surveyed 1,525 people from Aug. 12 to 24. The poll’s margin of error was 2.6%.

(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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