Socialists lead in polls but risk losing majority

Portugal's ruling Socialists have an eight-point lead over the centre-right opposition but risk losing their absolute majority in parliament, according to three polls published on Friday.


AFP - Portugal's ruling Socialists have an eight-point lead over the centre-right opposition but will still fall short of renewing their absolute majority in parliament, three polls published Friday showed.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates's Socialists have the support of between 38 and 38.8 percent against between 29.1 and 30 percent support for the Social Democratic Party (PSD), according to the surveys published in dailies Publico, Diario de Noticias and Jornal de Noticias, two days ahead of the general election.

The results mean the Socialists would capture 100 seats in the 230-seat assembly while the PSD, led since last year by former finance minister Manuela Ferreira Leite, would capture 80 seats, according to a projection carried out by Lisbon's Catholic University for Jornal de Noticias.

In the outgoing parliament the Socialists have 121 seats, their first absolute majority in the assembly since the end of a lenghty right-wing dictatorship in 1974, while the PSD have 75.

The surveys indicate the Left Block, a coalition of small Trotskyite, Maoist and other far-left movements, will be the third-most voted party, capturing between 9.4 and 11 percent of the vote.

The right-wing Popular Party has between 7.7 and 8.4 percent of the vote while the Communists have between 7.0 and 8.4 percent.

The Socialists suffered a surprise defeat to the PSD during the elections for the European Parliament in June and have since stepped up their attacks against Ferreira Leite, who vehemently opposed the party's plans for major public works projects like a new Lisbon airport to revive the economy.

Dubbed Portugal's "Iron Lady" for her austere demeanor, she has stressed the need for fiscal rigour at a time when Portugal public deficit is expected to rise to around 6.0 percent of its gross domestic product, double the amount allowed by the European Union.


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