Center-right candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was the clear winner Sunday in Portugal's presidential election, with over 52 percent of the vote, just enough to avoid a runoff.
With nearly all votes counted, the 67-year-old law professor and TV pundit, Rebelo de Sousa secured the post with 52.78 percent of the vote, far ahead of his closest rival independent leftist Antonio Sampaio da Novoa, who won 22.17 percent. Left Bloc candidate Marisa Matias won 10 percent of the vote.
In his victory speech, the Social Democrat said he will work to build consensus and repair divisions created in the aftermath of October’s inconclusive parliamentary elections when the left ousted a center-right administration that had imposed tough austerity under a bailout agreement in 2011-14.
"This election ends a very long election process... that unnerved the country and divided a society already hurt by years of crisis. It is time to turn the page and detraumatise, start an economic, social and political pacifiication," Rebelo de Sousa said at the Lisbon University's Law Faculty where he teaches.
He will succeed President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a conservative who was barred by the constitution from calling a new parliamentary election, after serving two consecutive five-year terms.
The future president will take the oath of office on March 9.
Portugal's president has the power to dissolve parliament and fire the prime minister at times of political uncertainty
Barely half of registered Portuguese voters cast their ballot in Sunday's poll, continuing a trend of low turnouts in Portuguese elections.