Centre-right Rebelo de Sousa wins Portugal’s Presidential Elections
The Portuguese Presidential elections held on 24 January 2016 amidst high expectations. The elections were conducted to choose the successor to President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who was constitutionally not allowed to run for a third term after serving two consecutive five year terms as president.
Portugal has a unique and interesting electoral system. Candidates are required to get 7,500 signatures of support one month before the election in order to appear on the ballot. If a candidate successfully gathers the necessary signatures of support, the Constitutional Court of Portugal is where the form is submitted for certification.
Similar to the electoral system of some countries, a candidate must receive a majority of votes (50% plus one vote) to be elected. If no candidate receives a majority of votes on the first round, a run off election which is the second round of elections will be held between the two candidates with the highest votes in the first round to elect a new leader.
Despite exit polls suggesting elections could go to a run-off, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, TV Pundit, law professor and centre-right politician gained 52.4% of the votes to secure the ceremonial post in an emphatic victory. His closest rival, Antonio Sampaio da Novoa won 22.89%.
The post of the president is mainly ceremonial, but the head of state can dissolve parliament.
Known as “Professor Marcelo” to his supporters, he has been involved in politics since his youth, helping to establish the centre-right Social Democratic Party.
Mr. Sousa vowed to be an independent president and said he wished to restore national unity while “our country is recovering from a deep economic and social crisis”.