The local government elections in Portugal have confirmed the national popularity of the ruling Socialist Party under Prime Minister Mario Soares.
GV Polling station, Lisbon
GV President General Ramalho Eanes enters polling station and casts vote (4 shots)
SV Prime Minister Dr. Mario Soares leaves polling station
MV Portuguese Communist Party leader Alvaro Cunhal voting and leaving polling station
GV INT Reporters awaiting election results
SV P.S.D. leader Francisco da Carneiro speaking to reporters
GV Reporters awaiting results
CU Soares speaking to reporters
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Background: The local government elections in Portugal have confirmed the national popularity of the ruling Socialist Party under Prime Minister Mario Soares. For although Sunday's (12 December) vote for representatives of four thousand parishes did not have direct bearing on national government, it was widely seen as a vote of confidence in Dr. Soares' five months in office.
SYNOPSIS: This was the first free vote for local government officials in more than 50 years. It completed the transition to democracy which began with the overthrow of the country's right-wing dictatorship by radical officers in April, 1974. Free presidential elections in June this year put into power General Antonio Ramalho Eanes. He returned on sunday to cast his vote in the same polling station as the one he used during his own election.
Dr. Soares had hoped to better the 35 per cent vote received by the Socialists in parliamentary elections in April this year. But even at 33 per cent, the party still severely defeated the Communists under the leadership of Alvaro Cunhal, who gained 17 per cent of the vote. After the Communists, came the Conservative Centre Democrats with 16.
Dr. Soares hailed the vote as a victory -- showing that his overall minority government should stay in power, he said. But he did warn reporters that the Communists had made 'a considerable recovery' from their parliamentary election defeat.
Before the vote Dr. Francisco da Carneiro, Chairman of the Socialist Democrats, the strongest opposition party, said he did not believe the Socialist Party would survive. He was close to being right -- in Sunday's poll his party came second, with almost 25 per cent, less than nine per cent behind the ruling Socialists. In practical terms, this gave them control of only five less municipal councils than the ruling party, out of a total of 304.