December 7, 2020

By Catarina Demony

LISBON (Reuters) – Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s announcement on Monday that he was running for office again in next month’s election may have been long anticipated – but confirming his candidacy at a Lisbon bakery was not.

Rebelo de Sousa, known for his fondness for selfies and sometimes light-hearted media appearances, had been hoping to make the announcement at a bookshop, but with most businesses shut due to coronavirus rules, he opted for a video from a well-known bakery near his office.

“This is the portrait of the times of restrictions we live in,” said Rebelo de Sousa, 71, who his tipped to win a second term. “I’m a candidate … because we have a pandemic to face, we have an economic and social crisis to overcome.”

First elected in 2016, Rebelo de Sousa, a law professor, TV commentator and former leader of opposition party Social Democrats (PSD), is popular among the Portuguese, rarely missing a social gathering.

Still, he has been criticised in the past for some of his conservative views on issues such as abortion and on occasion for not holding the government and parties to account, most recently when PSD struck a political agreement with far-right party Chega in the Azores archipelago.

Rebelo de Sousa is running against eight candidates, including Ana Gomes, a former European Parliament member, and Andre Ventura, Chega’s leader and former soccer commentator.

In a survey by pollsters Aximage for TSF radio and Jornal de Noticias newspaper, Rebelo de Sousa was in the lead on voting intentions, with 62.1%, followed by Gomes on 16.3% and Ventura getting 6.6%. The election is scheduled for Jan. 24.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Victoria Waldersee and Alison Williams)

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