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Portuguese president calls snap general election for January 30

Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called a snap general election for Jan. 30 on Thursday, a week after parliament threw out the minority Socialist government's 2022 budget bill ending six years of relative political stability.

Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called a snap general election for Jan. 30 on Thursday, a week after parliament threw out the minority Socialist government’s 2022 budget bill ending six years of relative political stability.

“In moments like this there is always a solution in democracy, without drama or fears … to give the word back to the people,” he said in a televised address.

Most Portuguese appeared resigned that an early ballot, even if necessary, will only perpetuate political deadlock, bringing more hardship.

An opinion poll by Aximage pollsters released earlier on Thursday showed that 54% of 803 respondents thought a snap election would be “bad for the country”, with 68% believing that no party would win a majority of seats in parliament.

Rebelo de Sousa’s consultative body, the Council of State, on Wednesday approved his proposal to dissolve parliament following the rejection of the budget bill.

“More or less, we were pretty stable, especially given the pandemic situation,” Lisbon pensioner Leonel Pereira, 66, told Reuters earlier on Thursday. “Only if they kept it that way a little longer … it would be good for us.”

Marta Amaral, 51, of Lisbon called the election “a necessary evil”. “It won’t be good but there’s no other way out,” she said.

An election alone might not solve the political impasse as opinion polls show that no single party or known alliance is likely to achieve a stable majority.

Still, another Lisbon resident, Sonia Oliveira, 44, was hopeful.

“I hope there will be more coalitions, that they unite more for the good of the people because we are the ones suffering, nobody else.”

Markets have reacted calmly so far, with Portugal’s 10-year bond yield fluctuating largely in line with their EU peers in the past few days, and dropping to mid-October levels on Thursday.

Support for the centre-left Socialists is little changed from the 36% they won in the last national election in 2019, with the centre-right Social Democrats in second at about 27%.

The only party that stands to clearly benefit from the election is the hard-right Chega that could emerge as the third-strongest force in parliament but is seen by political analysts as too toxic a potential partner for any other party.

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