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Portuguese centre-right TV star billed to win presidential poll

The former leader of Portugal’s centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) and prominent television commentator Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Friday announced his bid to run for the the presidency in next January’s election.

“I am a candidate for the presidency of the republic,” said the 66-year-old, who has already been billed the favourite in the poll.

Rebelo de Sousa announced his candidacy in Celorico de Basto in the north of Portugal, saying that the country must “leave behind the financial, economic and social crisis”.

The law professor’s announcement came after a coalition of the Social Democrats and the conservative Popular Party won a parliamentary election last weekend despite four difficult years of austerity and many predictions of defeat.

According to a survey of voting intentions by the Intercampus Institute that was published Sunday, Rebelo de Sousa can count on some 49.3 percent of votes.

The candidate is far ahead of the Socialists who have fielded two candidates: Maria de Belem, who is billed to take 17 percent of the votes, and Antonio Sampaio da Novoa with 10.1 percent.

Rebelo de Sousa is a popular television commentator whose Sunday evening news programme is widely watched — though he has now resigned from the show to run his campaign.

He headed the PSD from 1996 to 1999. At that time Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Guterres ruled with a narrow parliamentary majority.

Portugal’s current president, Anibal Cavaco Silva of the centre-right, has been in office since 2006. He was re-elected for his second term in 2011.