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Portugal's incumbent Socialists claim election victory: exit polls

Patricia de Melo Moreira AFP | Socialist party candidate and Portuguese outgoing Prime Minister Antonio Costa (C) arrives at Altis hotel in Lisbon on October 6, 2019, during the Portuguese General Election.

The ruling Socialists won Sunday’s parliamentary election with more votes than four years ago but will still likely fall short of having an outright majority, exit polls showed.

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The main question now is who Prime Minister Antonio Costa will pick as allies to stay in power.

Official results will trickle in through the evening.

The brackets of voting given by the pollsters were quite wide. Depending on how close the outcome eventually is, a clear picture could emerge quickly or take days or even weeks.

At the Socialist party headquarters, supporters stood up cheering as the exit polls were published.

Post-election negotiations are not expected to be as messy as in neighbouring Spain, which still has no government more than five months after elections and is heading for a repeat poll in November.

In 2015, it took less than two months for Costa, whose party had actually come second, behind the PSD, to strike an unexpected alliance with two far-left, Eurosceptic parties, the Left Bloc and the Communists and be sworn in as prime minister.

Rise of pro-environment parties

Since the last election, the People-Animals-Nature party (PAN), riding a wave of popularity of pro-environment parties in much of Europe. It was not immediately clear if it could become a kingmaker.

The southern Europe’s economy is growing more than EU average, helped by export growth and a booming tourism industry that last year saw more tourists visit Portugal than its number of inhabitants.

A total of four exit polls put the centre-left party in the overall range between 33.3% and 40% of the vote, which would give them more seats than in the last election in 2015 in a boost coming after four years of solid economic growth.

The main opposition Social Democrats (PSD) were on 24.2%-31%. The ranges are based on exit polls, by pollsters Pitagorica for TSF/TVI, Catolica for RTP television, Intercampus for Correio da Manha/Negocios newspapers and ICS-ISCTE for SIC TV and Expresso weekly.

(REUTERS)

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