5 Jun 2011

Strong mandate sought in Portuguese election

9:08 am on 5 June 2011

Both the main rival parties in Portugal have appealed for a strong mandate in elections on Sunday.

However, the BBC reports that neither the ruling Socialists nor the Social Democrats are tipped to do well enough to govern on their own, and another coalition is likely.

Opinion polls suggest the Social Democrats are in the lead, with almost 37% of the vote to about 31% for the Socialists. Campaigning is banned on Saturday.

Caretaker Prime Minister Jose Socrates said in Lisbon on Friday that the only poll that mattered was Sunday's.

Mr Socrates resigned in March, triggering an early election, after the opposition rejected his government's fourth austerity package.

Last month he presided over a bail-out by the EU and the IMF. The 78 billion euro ($US116 billion) was endorsed by all the main parties.

Mr Socrates has been in power since 2005.

Social Democrat leader Pedro Passos Coelho on Friday accused him of bringing Portugal to the brink of bankruptcy and having ''lied'' to the country.