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Portugal election

Voters judge public works plans in Portugese election

Article published on the 2009-09-27 Latest update 2009-09-27 13:29 TU

Portugal's Prime Minister and Socialist leader Jose Socrates casts his ballot in Lisbon (Photo: Reuters)

Portugal's Prime Minister and Socialist leader Jose Socrates casts his ballot in Lisbon
(Photo: Reuters)

Portugal's ruling Socialist Party faces a challenge from the Social Democartic Party (PSD) in a general election today. The Socialist promise a programme of public works to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The PSD opposes the plan, arguing that the priority should be reducing the public deficit.

The latest opinion polls show the Socialists, led by incumbent Prime Minister Jose Socrates, ahead but they may not have enough votes to rule alone.

Socrates is hoping to revitalise the Portuguese economy with a  public works projects, such as a new high-speed rail network and an airport near Lisbon.

But the PSD, led by the former Finance Minister Manuela Ferreira Leite, argues that Portugal cannot afford the projects.

Unemployment has risen to more than nine per cent, the highest level in two decades, but below the European Union average and just half the rate in neighbouring Spain.

Some disillusioned Socialist voters seem to be attracted by the Communist Party.

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