Lisbon, Jan 21 | Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has confirmed the holding of presidential elections on January 24, despite the ongoing lockdown imposed in the country in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“The Portuguese should vote on Sunday. It is very important to vote while respecting health rules, many democracies have done so in far more serious situations than we are experiencing,” he told journalists here on Wednesday.
In the midst of a campaign for re-election, Rebelo de Sousa said that “the response to fight the pandemic” cannot “paralyse democracy”, ruling out any possibility of the election being postponed, reports Xinhua news agency.
The President admitted that the elections must continue even if it is “almost inevitable” to hold the second round.
“This is a way of showing a commitment to affirming democracy, not suspending it, not paralysing it, not stopping it and not postponing it. We affirm the importance of living in democracy, whether or not there is a pandemic,”he added.
Rebelo de Sousa said he assumed “maximum responsibility for what goes well or badly” in the political management of the fight against the virus in Portugal.
Seven candidates, including incumbent Rebelo de Sousa who was elected in January 2016 with 52 per cent of the votes, are in the running in next Sunday’s poll.
Under Portuguese law, a candidate must receive a majority of votes to be elected.
If no candidate achieves a majority in the first round, a runoff election has to be take place.
Early vote started on January 17 with some 250,000 voters taking part.
This Sunday most citizens are expected to cast their votes in various locations across the country.
Portugal on Wednesday recorded its worst day since the beginning of the pandemic, with 14,647 new infections and 219 deaths recorded in just 24 hours.
The country’s overall Covid-19 caseload and death toll currently stand at 581,605 and 9,465, respectively.
On January 15, Portugal entered a new nationwide lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The state of emergency will remain in force until January 30.