Tuesday, November 28

Elections: Portugal defies the omicron and votes more than in 2019 | International

The coronavirus no longer intimidates the Portuguese. In the third votes held in the country since the pandemic was declared, participation has grown compared to those two previous appointments and also to the legislative ones organized before the covid. Abstention was 42%, well below that registered in 2019 (51.43%) despite voting without coronavirus. It was also the feeling among the people who work in the electoral colleges, such as Filipa Mesquita, an official of the district board of Campo de Ourique, in Lisbon, who supervises the development of the vote – to which the Portuguese prime minister was tied , the socialist António Costa, and the conservative Riu Rio― at the Pedro Nunes secondary school, one of the four points in the district where you can vote. “There is more participation than in the 2021 presidential elections, which were the first with covid,” he observes. It is a response that was also anticipated with the good reception that the early voting had last Sunday, which was attended by more than 90% of those who had requested it. This option allowed 286,000 people to cast their vote.

Voters are separated into rows for distribution to each of the eight sections of the institute. There are input and output circuits. In addition, access to the venue without a surgical or FFP2 mask is not allowed. “If the person does not have surgery or FFP2, we provide them with surgery,” explains Mesquita. Until two in the afternoon everything had developed normally. “I have always voted, also in the other elections that have taken place during the pandemic. Taking the precautionary measures has not scared me”, says the jurist Joana Colhaço, 36, at the gates of the school. She does not believe that this Sunday’s elections will transform Parliament much, something that she would like to see happen: “I doubt there will be much movement, but my generation, those of us who are between 30 and 40 years old, are committed to producing a needed change in the country.

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The polarization of the campaign, which has conveyed the message that each vote is crucial, has mobilized society more than the fear of possible contagion despite the massive impact of the omicron. More than 1.2 million people are in isolation (597,879 of them are infected and the rest are high-risk contacts), well above the expectations considered a month ago (some 400,000 were expected). Voters confined by the virus have received official authorization to go out to vote and it has been recommended that they preferably do so in the last hour of voting (from six in the afternoon, seven Spanish time). In that strip, the personnel of the electoral tables, explains Filipa Mesquita, will be able to use additional protection measures such as gowns and visors.

10.34 million people live in Portugal, but this Sunday 10.89 can vote. This has a historical explanation: more than a million and a half Portuguese reside in a foreign country. In total, 1.55 million Portuguese emigrants can participate in the legislative elections this Sunday, which gives an idea of ​​the electoral weight that the foreign colony has in the composition of the Assembly of the Republic. The country also grants the right to vote to Brazilians residing in Portugal, by virtue of the treaty between the two countries, which grants reciprocal equality of political rights to its citizens.

The Portuguese diaspora in Europe is equivalent to 9% of the population that lives within the country, greatly decimated by emigration in the 20th century and in the 21st witnesses a new demographic exodus, this time characterized by educated young people who find better working conditions abroad . In Europe, Portuguese emigrants are concentrated mainly in France (414,000), Switzerland (146,000) and the United Kingdom (141,000). In Spain, the electoral census only counts 42,000. The American country with the largest Portuguese colony is Brazil, with 250,000.

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