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Polls open in Portugal

Published on 04/10/2015

Portuguese voters began casting their ballots Sunday, choosing between the incumbent centre-right coalition that steered the country through a punishing bailout and the Socialists, who promise to ease painful reforms.

Polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0700 GMT), with the first results expected around 12 hours later.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s “Portugal Ahead” coalition — linking his centre-right Social Democratic Party with the conservative Popular Party — has made a surprising comeback in opinion polls, with most putting it ahead despite overseeing harsh cuts.

The coalition, in power since 2011, has 37.5 percent support, against 32.5 percent for the main opposition Socialists led by Antonio Costa, a popular former mayor of Lisbon, according to the average of the latest surveys.

But neither side is likely to win an absolute majority in the 230-seat parliament.

With apathy gripping many of the country’s 9.6 million voters, pollsters predict the numbers opting to stay at home may even surpass the record 42 percent recorded in the last election.