AFP - Campaigning in Portugal's parliamentary elections officially began Sunday, with a tight race shaping up between the ruling Socialists and the centre-right opposition two weeks before voting day.
Public opinion polls suggest that neither Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who is seeking a second term, or rival Social Democratic leader Manuela Ferreira Leite will muster enough votes to form an majority government.
In a televised debate Saturday, Socrates defended his government's record and set out to explain how it differs from the centre-right platform, notably in economic and social policy, ahead of the September 27 vote.
While the incumbent prime minister refused to rule out any post-election scenario, Ferreira Leite excluded the possiblity of her Social Democrats sharing power with the Socialists.
Portugal's more radical Left Bloc and communists, as well as its Greens, have also ruled out joining the Socialists in a coalition government, deeming its past four years in power too right-leaning for their taste.
In the last elections in February 2005, the Socialists took a majority of 121 seats in the 230-seat parliament with 45 percent of the vote.
In a presidential election less than a year later, exploiting splits in the left, Social Democratic candidate Anibal Cavaco Silva became Portugal's first right-wing head of state since the end of dictatorship in April 1974.