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Portugal’s president seeks re-election in January

Portugal’s conservative incumbent President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said Monday he will run for re-election in January, vowing to continue fighting the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis.

Polls show Rebelo de Sousa will likely win the January 24 election in the absence of a candidate officially supported by the Socialist Party government.

“I am a candidate for the presidency of the republic because there’s a pandemic to confront, an economic and social crisis to overcome,” the 71-year-old head of state said.

Rebelo de Sousa, a former law professor and former president of the Social Democrat Party (PSD) who became popular as a political commentator on television, will win in the first round if he gets more than 50 percent of votes on January 24, as opinion polls indicate.

Among the candidates who have already announced themselves, Socialist Ana Gomes, a critic of Prime Minister Antonio Costa, appears to be in second place in surveys. At 66 years old, this career diplomat and former European deputy has become a prominent fighter of corruption.

The head of the anti-establishment party Chega, MP Andre Ventura, 37, aims meanwhile to bolster the inroads this new right-wing populist party has made since it entered parliament during the legislative elections last year.

The leftist bloc and the communist party have each presented a candidate of their own.

In Portugal, the president is elected for a five-year term, which can be renewed once. Though he has no executive power, he plays the role of arbiter in a political crisis, having the power to dissolve parliament and pave the way for legislative elections.