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1/25/16

Portugal - De Sousa wins Portuguese presidential election outright

 Centre-right candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa won Portugal’s presidential election on Sunday, an outcome that should help maintain political balance after a dramatic swing to the left in October’s parliamentary ballot.

In his victory speech, Social Democrat Rebelo de Sousa, 67, said he will work to promote consensus and repair divisions created in the aftermath of the previous election when the left ousted a centre-right administration that imposed tough austerity under an international bailout in 2011-14.

Portugal’s president is a largely ceremonial figure but he plays an important role at times of political uncertainty - as have gripped the country since last October’s inconclusive parliamentary election. He has the power to dissolve parliament and fire the prime minister.

Portugal is likely to need all consensus possible as a shaky government of moderate centre-left Socialists dependent on far-left parties for support in parliament tries to reconcile its election pledges to end economic austerity with budget deficit cuts promised to the European Union.

“This election ends a very long election process... that unnerved the country and divided a society already hurt by years of crisis. It is time to turn the page and detraumatise, start an economic, social and political pacifiication,” Rebelo de Sousa said at the Lisbon University’s Law Faculty where he teaches.

“We have to align social justice with economic growth and financial stability, without compromising the financial solidity for which so many Portuguese sacrificed so much for years,” he said referring to Portugal’s budget consolidation drive of the past few years that helped it out of an acute debt crisis.

With nearly all votes counted, preliminary results showed Rebelo de Sousa, a former journalist and one-time leader of the centre-right Social Democrats, winning 52 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff.

Read more: Europe - De Sousa wins Portuguese presidential election outright - France 24

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