Portugal holds presidential elections amid record Covid context – 24/01/2021 – World

With masks, practicing distance and using their own pens, the Portuguese went to the polls this Sunday (24) to vote in the presidential elections, even with cases of the coronavirus reaching record levels.

Opinion polls show that current president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, of the center-right Social Democratic Party, is expected to win easily.

With a turnout of 35.4% until 4 p.m. local time, the movement seemed a bit weaker than in the 2016 presidential election, which had a turnout of 37.7% in the same time.

“I am among the first to avoid the crowds and the lines,” said Cristina Queda, 58, who arrived at her polling station in Lisbon as soon as the space opened at 8 a.m. . “The date of the elections has not changed, I decided to come early to avoid problems,” he said.

Just under two-thirds of Portuguese believe that the elections should be postponed due to the pandemic, according to a survey carried out last week by the ISC / ISCTE institute.

Some voters claim to have waited half an hour in queues that rounded corners because, according to the rules, people should stay two meters from each other and only one was allowed to enter the polling room at that time.

Polls predict a record 60% to 70% abstention, in part because hundreds of thousands of voters are being quarantined.

After voting in Lisbon, Prime Minister António Costa said all measures had been taken to prevent contagion.

“All the measures are in place,” Costa said. “We are at a very serious moment in the pandemic and everything has been done so that people can exercise their democratic right.”

With an optional vote, the elections come at the worst time of the coronavirus pandemic, with the country of ten million people returning to general isolation.

Besides shops and restaurants, the government closed schools for 15 days, while on Sunday (24) a new record was set, increasing the total number since the start of the pandemic to more than 10,500 deaths.

With more than 85,000 new cases recorded and nearly 1,500 deaths last week, Portugal ranks first in the world in terms of the number of infected compared to the population, surpassed only by the British enclave of Gibraltar, according to official data obtained. by AFP.

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