Portuguese voters head to the polls amid national COVID lockdown

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    Portuguese voters head to the polls amid national COVID lockdown

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Armando Franca/AP Photo

Portuguese voters will head to the polls today to vote in a presidential election as COVID-19 cases rise in the country.

Voters will decide amid a national lockdown whether to reelect incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa who is leading in polls.

There are 12,000 voting locations and voters must wear a mask, disinfect their hands, keep their distance, and bring their own pens, the country’s prime minister said.

The president in Portugal is the head of state and does not have legislative power but can veto legislation. The president can also dissolve the legislative assemblies and grant pardons.

There are seven candidates in the race and if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff.

The most recent Eurosondagem poll from January showed incumbent Rebelo de Sousa with around 59%, followed by Ana Gomes from the Socialist Party with 15% and André Ventura with around 10%, poll aggregator Europe Elects said.

Ventura is a far-right populist candidate who claims to be the only right-wing candidate. Analysts will be closely watching how well he performs in the election.

The presidential election comes as Portugal faces mounting COVID-19 infections.

The government said just this past week that they would stop school activity for 15 days in an effort to curb infections.

Portugal has one of the highest case and death rates over the past two weeks in Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

On Saturday, the country reported more than 15,300 cases, a record high, and more than 270 deaths.

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