Correspondent in Lisbon
The electoral process in Portuguese lands only reaches the end after the numerous peculiarities that mark out the structure responsible for the distribution of votes, whose counting does not start until the schools in the Azores islands are closed, where they govern two hours less than in Spain.
Therefore, exit polls cannot be broadcast until after 10:00 p.m. Spanish time, with some media outlets giving their own results. So when this note was published, still it was not clear if the socialists would repeat their mandate (in a minority, probably) or if the conservatives of the PSD hatched the surprise.
What was clear is that 1,200,000 Portuguese had to keep isolation, given that they swelled the lists of those directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
They could go out to vote, but the controversy arose because they were not assigned any specific time slot and then there were fears that fewer people would turn out to vote. But no, fear did not grip the citizens.
So much so that the ghosts collapsed when it became known that, at 4:00 p.m., 45.66% of the electorate had cast their vote, that is, seven points more than in 2019.
It cannot be forgotten that the general elections this Sunday, January 30, in Portugal responded to a advance call and that, therefore, parliamentary activity is on hold until the Assembly of the Republic is renewed with the 230 elected deputies.
It was not for less, because the radical left (the Bloco de Esquerda, led by the ambitious Catarina Martins, and the communists of the veteran Jerónimo de Sousa) left the socialists stranded just when they most needed their support: for the approval, last December , of some State Budgets that did not pass the cut.
Leading the new party Liberal Initiative, Joao Cotrim de Figueiredo hit the nail on the head when announcing that, the closer things are, the more the final results of the scrutiny will be delayed, since the vote of the territories that were former colonies would be more decisive than ever to unravel a hypothetical (and not surprising) technical tie between the socialists and the conservatives of the PSD.
It is this formation that is closest to the postulates of the PP and, in fact, clings to the hope of the ‘Ayuso effect’, as happened in the municipal elections on September 26, when Carlos Moedas gave the surprise and evicted a stunned Fernando Medina of the Lisbon City Council.
Will the controversial Rui Rio be able to star in such a coup now? Will his strategy of waiting for a socialist bump pay off? The options were open until the last moment.
The President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, He has been an exceptional witness since he confirmed that the electoral advance would arrive on January 30, a date that he pondered after hearing the arguments of the different political parties.
The head of the Portuguese State, conservative, declared that “this is the only way to end uncertainty.” Yes, because the concern of a prolonged political crisis was floating in the air, finally nipped in the bud thanks to the quick action of Rebelo de Sousa, whose work as a counterweight to the socialist government has been significant in recent years.
Therefore, a definitive point was set so that the capsizing would not harm the neighboring country too much. Goodbye to the delay with statements like this: “Rejecting budgets has divided the country and created a crisis where there was none,” he said without fuss.
Unusually, Rui Rio did not launch himself against António Costa in this context, but continued with his lukewarmness and even referred to agreeing with his great rival in order to “guarantee governability” of the country.
The electoral campaign has caught the conservatives fearful of the advance of Arrives (near Vox) and also of the irruption of the Liberal Initiative (IL).
These last two formations have taken the opportunity to take positions, while another redoubt of the right struggled not to succumb to oblivion: the Democratic and Social Center (CDS).
Perhaps the message of the new conservative mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, can serve as an example to the hosts of the PSD: “We have shown that it is possible to defeat the socialists.”
There António Costa found the ‘excuse’ to shake the ghost of “fascism” which, according to him, is embodied in the figure of André Ventura and his proposal called Chega knocking on the doors of Parliament, which was precisely in the center of the target this Sunday because a well-known group of hackers attacked their website and announced that they had stolen ‘information’ from their files. They are the same ones that intervened against an internet domain of a prestigious weekly.