Elections mark out Portugal as European political curiosity

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October 04, 2019 - 4:17 am

Cars drive past billboards of Portuguese Prime Minister and Socialist Party leader Antonio Costa, left, and Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins, in Lisbon, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. Portugal will hold a general election on Oct. 6 in which voters will choose members of the next Portuguese parliament. Slogan on the Socialist's billboard reads in Portuguese, "It's your vote that decides". (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal's general election this weekend makes the country look like Europe's odd man out.

While, across the European Union, radical new parties are reshaping the political landscape and Socialist parties have lost ground in recent years, in Portugal political tradition is still what it used to be.

The two mainstream parties are expected to garner most votes in Sunday’s ballot, with the center-left Socialist Party showing an opinion poll lead of at least 7 percentage points over the center-right Social Democratic Party.

And there is a broad consensus in Portugal that migrants are indispensable _ to fill unskilled jobs and help offset a demographic time bomb as a low birth rate depletes the national population. That has denied oxygen to nationalist parties, which have remained tiny and on the political fringe.

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