The early general elections in Portugal, which will be held on Sunday, will result in instability as no political party could come to power alone, and turnout would be low due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the survey results.

The voting rates between the ruling Socialist Party (PS) and the main opposition right-wing Social Democratic Party (PSD) were head-to-head in all the polls published in the Portuguese press since the beginning of the week.

The PS, which has been in power since November 2015, could not pass the 2022 budget in the parliament as they could not convince the left and communist parties that supported the minority government from outside. The country will go to early elections, and Prime Minister Antonio Costa has lost votes in recent weeks.

“It seems that Portuguese people don’t like a single-party majority in parliament,” Costa said this week. There is a need for other parties’ support after the elections regardless of who wins the elections.

One week before the elections, polls revealed that PSD took the lead by a narrow margin.

Current Prime Minister and PS leader Costa and main opposition leader Rui Rio are two strong candidates. They participated in face-to-face discussions on television 30 times in 25-minute programs between Jan. 2- 15 due to the pandemic.

During the election campaign, political parties focused on taxation, distribution of funds from the EU, minimum wage, investment in the health and education system, and TAP airlines, which are in economic crisis.​​​​​​​

It was noteworthy that Rui Rio, the leader of the right-wing PSD, promised to introduce a scoring system by making changes in the immigration law similar to the “Green card” model in the US.

The People-Animals-Nature Party (PAN) and Enough (Chega) will have a key role in the 230-seat parliament. If the predictions come true, Chega, currently the 7th largest party in the Portuguese parliament, will become the 3rd party with the most MPs.

Standing out with its anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant policies, Chega promised to enact laws based on ethnicity and race. They also promised to “establish a Ministry of Family to guarantee the restructuring of the family morally, civic, culturally or economically.”

Carlos Magno, Portuguese journalist and social communication professor, told Anadolu Agency that the problem in Portugal is not the far-right but the unstable administration. “Chega will continue to increase its votes in every election repeated. But the maximum vote rate it can get is 10%,” he said.

Low turnout rate expected

The participation rate will decrease in the general election as it will take place during the pandemic period. Nearly 1 million people, equivalent to 10% of the country’s population, are in-home quarantine due to COVID-19.

The turnout was 48.57 percent in the last elections in 2019, and it fell to 40% in the presidential elections in Jan. 2021. The Portuguese press emphasizes that this rate is at risk of falling further on Sunday.

Some 300,000 people, including the prime minister, have already voted at the ballot boxes set up on Jan. 23 in some big cities such as Lisbon and Porto to increase participation.

While there are currently nine political parties in the parliament, 21 political parties participate in the elections, in which a total of 10.8 million voters are registered.

60-year-old Costa, who has been prime minister for six years, will go down in history as the longest-serving prime minister in the country since the Carnation Revolution, which ended the dictatorship in 1974.

Rui Rio, 64, who is the former mayor of Porto and has been leading the PSD since 2018, wants to bring his party to power.

Current seat distribution in the parliament: Socialist Party-PS 108 (36.34%), Social Democratic Party-PSD 79 (27.76%), the Left Bloc -BE 19 (9.52%), Communist Party and Greens alliance Unitarian Democratic Coalition-CDU 12 (6.33%), Social Democratic Center- CDS-PP 5 (4.22 percent), People, Animals and Nature-PAN 4 (3.32%), Enough-Chega 1 (1.29%), Liberal Initiative-IL 1 (1.29%), Free-Livre 1 (1.09%).

* Writing by Gozde Bayar

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