Portugal elects Rebelo de Sousa as president

The centre-right politician Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has been elected as Portugal's new president after winning enough votes in the first round on Sunday to avoid a run-off. Commentators see Rebelo de Sousa as a counterpart to the new left-wing government and a mediator between the political camps.

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El País (ES) /

Portugal very different from Greece

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will call for unity in his country, the centre-left daily El País comments:

“In his election campaign Rebelo commendably called for dialogue and mediation to stabilise the system. A system which unlike that in Greece, for example, has survived the brutal economic crisis, with the result that Portuguese society still trusts its institutions. In this way and without much ado Portugal has placed a conservative from the media world who fought a simple election campaign based on promises of unity and dialogue rather than drastic and quick solutions at the head of the state. Despite the great difficulties that lie ahead, the Portuguese - notwithstanding the typically high proportion of abstention - have sent their politicians the message that they want stability and collaboration.”

ABC (ES) /

A clear rejection of old pipedreams

The Portuguese have opted to give the new left-wing government a conservative counterweight, writes the conservative daily ABC commenting on the election results:

“Portugal is a country that was bailed out. It needed the help of its European partners to survive and its financial sector is in a very precarious state. Any wrong move could jeopardise its economy. … The idea of forming an anti-austerity front that extends from Greece to France, Italy and Portugal - and that includes the dream of a future in which Spain too has an anti-austerity government - is a counterproductive utopia because it is incompatible with the principle of the single currency and undermines the stability needed for recovery. The message the Portuguese delivered at the ballot is a clear rejection of those pipedreams: they want moderation, stringency and prudence.”

Expresso (PT) /

The president plays a key role

Despite the lack of interest shown by the majority of Portuguese during the election campaign the figure of the president remains vital, the liberal weekly Expresso stresses:

“A strange sense of indifference was perceptible, as if the Portuguese had grown weary of the politics that so dominated 2015 - or as if they suddenly considered the post of president unimportant. But nothing could be further from the truth. Although Cavaco Silva's last term in office wasn't exactly the Portuguese's favourite the president continues to play a crucial role: in turbulent times he is a pivotal element, stabilising the system. … In times of major political instability and profound economic uncertainty he plays a key role.”