Parliamentary elections began Sunday in Portugal, with the austerity policies of the ruling conservatives being the centre of contention in a country struck hard by the recent economic crisis.
According to local opinion polls, the two-party alliance Portugal Ahead (PaF), led by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, could lose its absolute majority if it only gets 37 per cent to 40 per cent of the vote, as projected.
The Socialist Party (PS) of leading candidate Antonia Costa is polling at 31 per cent to 33 per cent. The two remaining parties liable to enter parliament – the CDU (an alliance of the Communists and Greens) and the Left Bloc (BE) – come in at around 10 per cent each.
In 2011, Portugal was saved from bankruptcy by a 78-billion-euro (87.5-billion-dollar) rescue package extended by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The country left the emergency rescue programme in May 2014.