LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s opposition Social Democrats narrowed the gap behind Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s Socialist Party in an opinion poll released on Thursday, a month before a snap parliamentary election.
The poll by ICS/ISCTE pollsters published by Expresso newspaper put Costa’s centre-left party on 38%, down two percentage points from their previous poll released on Nov. 13, but largely in line with other recent surveys.
The centre-right Social Democrats rose to 31% support from 26% after their leader Rui Rio saw off an internal leadership challenge last month.
The margin of error in the poll, which surveyed 901 people on Dec. 10-20, was 3.3%.
The hard-right Chega, which had just one seat in the legislature that was dissolved this month after it rejected the minority government’s 2022 budget bill in October, polled at 7% and could emerge as the third-largest force in parliament.
The Communist-Greens alliance was on 6%, followed by Left Bloc, on 5%, and a number of smaller parties.
Political analysts say the Jan. 30 election alone might not solve Portugal’s political impasse as no party or workable alliance is likely to achieve a stable majority, potentially undermining the country’s ability to spur growth using European pandemic recovery funds.
The government will from January have to roll over this year’s budget on a monthly basis. It secured solid economic growth and quashed the budget deficit before the coronavirus pandemic, and expects a strong rebound this year and next.
(Reporting by Andrei Khalip, Editing by Timothy Heritage)