COVID-19 Surge Could Cause Runoff Election In Portugal

Center-right incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa urges voters to 'overcome your fears.'
Posted at 1:16 PM, Jan 24, 2021

Despite having the world's highest rates of new daily infections and deaths, 

Portugal voters bravely turned out Sunday to vote in the country's presidential election. 

Election officials took extra safety precautions, such as early voting and opening more polling stations. Center-right incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa urged voters who were able to, quote, "overcome your fears" and cast ballots. 

Officials said low voter turnout could lead to a February 14 runoff between Rebelo de Sousa and far-right candidate Andre Ventura. 

Incumbents in Portugal's presidential elections have usually won second terms since 1976 and Rebelo de Sousa had been leading in the polls.

A former political commentator, he's been a somewhat unconventional head of state. Widely referred to solely by his first name "Marcelo," the 72-year-old has been spotted wearing shorts in supermarket lines and sharing meals with the homeless.

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