Center-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 center-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 center-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.