Lisbon (dpa) - The head of state Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is also popular across party lines, succeeded in triumphant re-election in Portugal - but there is no time to celebrate in the country, which has been particularly hard hit by the Corona crisis.
The popular «Presidente dos afetos», the «President of affection», made this unmistakably in his victory speech on Monday night.
The fight against the pandemic, which the holiday country currently has in a stranglehold like no other in Europe, is "now the most urgent thing," said the 72-year-old conservative politician to the Portuguese.
"This is mine, yours, all of us mission!"
The health system was "dramatically threatened" because of the drastically increasing number of infections, he warned.
In the presidential election on Sunday, the former law professor and television journalist was confirmed in office for another five years with 60.7 percent of the vote.
He achieved almost nine percentage points more than his first win five years ago.
The head of state has a lot of power in Portugal.
The president can both veto laws and dissolve parliament and call new elections.
For Portugal it was the tenth presidential election since the Carnation Revolution of 1974.
As the national electoral authority announced after counting more than 99.9 percent of the votes, the candidate Ana Gomes of the Socialist Party (PS) of Prime Minister António Costa landed far behind in second place with just under 13 percent.
However, she had not enjoyed the support of her party, as Costa got on unusually well politically with Rebelo de Sousa.
In the shadow of the pandemic, Sunday's vote exposed another threat to the country's political stability.
The head of the right-wing populist party Chega!
(It's enough!), André Ventura, achieved an unexpectedly good, almost sensational result with just under 11.9 percent.
The party, which was founded just under two years ago, had to be content with 1.3 percent in the parliamentary elections in autumn 2019.
The success of the 38-year-old newcomer is ringing the alarm bells in Portugal.
Ventura, for example, triggered outrage by calling for members of certain minorities such as Sinti and Roma to be separated from the rest of the population in the fight against the virus.
Representatives of the other parties and other political experts spoke of great danger.
Without mentioning Ventura, Rebelo also promised a “fight against extremism”.
In addition to the soaring of the right-wing populists, the dramatic escalation of the Corona crisis is dominating the headlines in and about Portugal.
The EU country, a popular travel destination for German vacationers, has just been declared a high-risk corona area by the federal government.
The number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days was recently around 750. This is one of the highest values in the world, and the trend is clearly upwards.
For comparison: In Germany, the so-called seven-day incidence was recently just above the 100 mark.
The figures from the renowned Johns Hopkins University compiled by the “Our World in Data” portal paint an even bleak picture: According to them, the development of new infections in Portugal is more worrying than anywhere else in the world.
One sad record is currently chasing the next: with 675 fatalities within 24 hours, the health authorities in Lisbon reported a new high on Sunday.
Because of the pandemic, numerous politicians and other celebrities had called for the election to be postponed.
In a survey commissioned by the weekly newspaper “Expresso”, 57 percent of the participants were in favor of a move.
Many voters probably stayed at home out of fear of the virus: voter turnout reached a record low of almost 40 percent.
Rebelo de Sousa, who has been in office since 2016, is considered an extremely close to the people politician who, as head of state, likes to hug, kiss and comfort people on the street.
Sometimes he also appears as an active helper: In August, the wiry Catholic in the Algarve rushed into the sea to help rescue two women whose kayak had capsized.
But it is not only such actions that give Rebelo de Sousa recognition and prestige.
He is also highly credited for not only criticizing and controlling, as a conservative politician, the left government of Prime Minister António Costa, but also supporting it.
He attaches great importance to the country's political stability.
The cooperation between him and Costa has worked almost smoothly so far.
The Portuguese are betting that the duo will succeed in the fight against Corona and the social and economic consequences of the pandemic.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210125-99-155986 / 2