Portuguese socialists widen gap over opposition ahead of elections – poll


LISBON, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Portugal’s ruling Socialists extended their lead in a new poll on Sunday, two weeks before a snap election, widening the gap between them and the main opposition Social Democrats.

The survey, carried out by pollsters Aximage for the newspapers Jornal de Noticias, Diario de Noticias and the radio station TSF, gave current Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s PS party a 38.1% vote share, against 35.4% last month.

It still leaves the PS below a majority which, under the proportional representation system, is equivalent to between 42% and 45% of the vote.

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The poll places the Social Democrats (PSD), led by Rui Rio, at 28.5%, compared to 33.2% in December. PS and PSD are now separated by about 10 percentage points, according to the survey.

In October, Costa’s two former allies – the Communists and the Left Bloc – sided with right-wing parties to reject the minority government’s budget bill, triggering a snap election scheduled for January 30.

If the PS fails to win a majority, it will need the support of one or more parties to pass legislation.

The Left Bloc and the Communists obtained 7.4% and 4.8% support respectively in the Aximage poll.

During a debate last week, Costa said an alliance between the three was no longer possible, but signaled he could seek support from the People-Animals-Nature party. The Aximage poll gives them 2.1% of the vote.

Analysts say the election alone may not resolve the political impasse as no viable party or alliance is likely to secure a stable majority.

According to the poll, which polled 807 people from January 6 to 12 with a margin of error of 3.45%, the far-right Chega party would become the third party in the country, with 9% polls, against 6.2 % in December. .

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Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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