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Portuguese Socialists, Democrats In Tight Race

Ruling Social Democrats, plagued by corruption scandals and the loss of a popular leader, face a challenge from rejuvenated Socialists in parliamentary elections today.

But going into the poll, neither the Socialists nor the Social Democrats clearly appeared strong enough to win an outright majority in Portugal’s 230-seat legislature, political observers said.

A Communist-led coalition or the right-wing, anti-European Union Popular Party could become power brokers, but Socialist leader Antonio Guterres has said his party would not govern in a formal coalition.

The Social Democrats came to power in 1985, ushering in a decade of prosperity and stability after years of shaky minority governments that followed Portugal’s 1974 move to democracy after 48 years of dictatorship.

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