Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, TV pundit and law professor, gains 52.4% of the vote to secure ceremonial post
A centre-right candidate has recorded an emphatic victory in Portugals presidential election, collecting more than half of the vote against nine rivals as voters picked a counterweight to Portugals centre-left Socialist government.
With 98% of the votes counted, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a veteran politician and law professor, won 52.4% of the vote share on Sunday to capture the mostly ceremonial post. His nearest rival had less than half of that and his opponents conceded quickly.
Rebelo de Sousa will move into the head of states riverside pink palace in Lisbon on 9 March, replacing Anibal Cavaco Silva, who has served the maximum of two five-year terms.
Portugals presidential election could go to a runoff, exit polls indicated, with a veteran centre-right politician getting double the votes of his nearest rival but perhaps narrowly failing to capture the mostly ceremonial post. A runoff between the two front-runners would be held on 14 February.
If needed, Rebelo de Sousa would likely take on Antonio Sampaio da Novoa, a former university dean close to the centre-left government who was expected to get from 22%- 25% of the vote, according to the public broadcaster.
A poll by public broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa indicated that Rebelo de Sousa won from 49%- 54% of the vote, easily defeating nine rivals but possibly falling short of capturing the more than 50% needed to be elected immediately.
Polls on television channels TVIndependente and S.I.C. gave Rebelo de Sousa 51%-56% and 50%-55% of the vote respectively.
A Socialist minority government runs Portugal with backing of the Communist party and the radical Left Bloc. It is scrapping unpopular economic austerity measures introduced after the financial crisis.
Rebelo de Sousas expected win suggested voters were looking for a counterweight to the centre-left government. Turnout was low on Sunday at 52% after a dull two-week campaign.
The government is trying to pull off a balancing act by ending austerity measures while sticking to the financial prudence adopted after Portugals 78bn (£59bn) bailout in 2011.
Rebelo de Sousa is a self-confessed moderate who says he will not rock the boat. The president has to be a factor of stability, not instability, he said during the campaign.
The 67-year-old law professor has had a long career in the public eye, working as a newspaper editor, media pundit, junior member of governments since the 1970s and a former member of the European parliament.
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