A favorite of the presidential election in Portugal, the Conservative candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was elected Sunday in the first round, driven by its popularity as a television commentator, facing a divided left.

This professor high right color, aged 67, collects 52% of the vote, well ahead of its main rival, the independent left Antonio Sampaio da Novoa, who gets 22.89% of the vote, according to nearly complete results.

Key election issue, the head of state has the right to dissolve parliament, a decisive weapon while the Socialist government in place since November depends on a fragile alliance with the radical left.

A year and a half after the release of Portugal of its international bailout of € 78 billion, the coming to power of a minority government supported by the Communist Party and the Left Bloc had divided the country and raised concerns in Europe.

“I want to restore national unity,” while “our country is emerging from a deep economic and social crisis,” said Sunday evening Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, pledging to “be a free and independent president”.

Among the first to congratulate the future head of state, former Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho right felt that “this victory in the first round gives it an undeniable political authority.”

People beyond his political camp featured as a commentator on television, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa led a very personalized campaign without posters or leaflets, favoring direct contact with voters.

“He led a consensual countryside, away from his political camp, to pick up voices left and right,” he told AFP political scientist José Antonio Passos Palmeira.

– The left divided –

“The Professor Marcelo is experienced, he inspires confidence,” said Cesario Correia, a pensioner of 69, after voting in a popular district of Lisbon.

An opinion shared little José Nascimento, accountant of 57 years, who chose a candidate of the left: “Marcelo makes the show, it’s a personality of” showbiz “that promises everything to everyone.”

This election has mobilized more Portuguese than in the last presidential election, with an abstention rate standing at 51.2%, against a record 53.5% in 2011.

Divided, the Socialist Party, which gave no instructions to vote, appears to be the loser in this election.The former Minister of Health Socialist Maria de Belem Roseira has had to settle for 4.24% of votes, surpassed by the candidate of the Left Bloc, Marisa Matias (10.13% of the vote).

“It is a defeat for the left,” admitted Catarina Martins, spokesman of the Greek Syriza sister party and ally of the socialist government.

Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center-right) in 1996-1999, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa passes for a free electron of the Portuguese policy, known for his independence of mind.

If a candidate had the official support of the PSD and CDS (right), he distanced himself from the party associated with four years of fiscal austerity.

– The weapon of dissolution –

Apart from the political color, everything distinguishes the incumbent President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who ends 76 years in his second consecutive five-year term, whose end was marked by the crisis resulting elections on October 4th.

This Conservative to the rigid shape has never hidden his reluctance to appoint a socialist government supported in parliament by anti-European left-wing parties and radical opposition to NATO.

This unprecedented alliance in forty years of democracy had ousted the right-wing coalition, topped the election but without an absolute majority.

Unlike Mr Cavaco Silva, the “Professor Marcelo” has been quite conciliatory towards the government led by Antonio Costa, his former student at the Law Faculty of Lisbon.

“It will not be the political enemy of the socialist government,” told AFP the political scientist Antonio Costa Pinto. But in a crisis, “he did not hesitate to call new elections, if satisfied that they will lead to a stable majority.”

To the chagrin of the tenors of the right, which rely on their candidate to facilitate their return to power, Mr. Rebelo de Sousa has described as “absolutely absurd” the assumption of a dissolution of Parliament on his arrival at the presidential palace .

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