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Thursday December 12th, 2019 7:39PM

The Latest: Center-left Socialists win Portugal election

By The Associated Press
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The latest on Portugal's election (all times local):

11:55 p.m.

Portugal's center-left Socialist Party has collected the most votes in Sunday's general election, leaving it poised to continue in government for another four years.

With 208 seats in the 230-seat parliament awarded in the official count, the Socialists reached 99 seats, compared with 74 for the second-place Social Democratic Party. Social Democrat leader Rui Rio conceded defeat.

The parliament chooses a government, usually taken from the party that has the most lawmakers. 

It remained unclear, however, if the Socialists would get a parliamentary majority.

That could mean they would take power as a minority government or pursue a governing alliance with other left-of-center parties — as they did in their last term with the Portuguese Communist Party and the radical Left Bloc. 

___

8 p.m.

An exit poll indicates the center-left Socialist Party has collected the most votes in Portugal's general election and is poised to continue in government for another four years.

The estimate, published by the S.I.C. television channel, projects that the Socialists will capture 36-40% of Sunday's vote. It says the main opposition Social Democratic Party will get 24-28%.

It gives the radical Left Bloc 9-12%, the Portuguese Communist Party 5-7% and the Christian Democrats 2.4-5%

It estimates turnout at 48.5-52.5%, which would be a record low.

The exit poll by Lisbon University's public survey department was based on asking people leaving polling stations how they had voted. The result was roughly in line with opinion polls published before the election.

___

8:15 a.m.

Portugal is holding a general election, with the center-left Socialist Party widely expected to collect most votes and stay in government for another four years.

The Socialists have overseen a strong economic recovery, with unemployment dropping by around half, to 6%, over its term. They have also started straightening out Portugal's ill-managed public finances.

The main opposition Social Democrats party is still associated with the deep cutbacks and a three-year recession that ended in 2014, when the center-right party was in power.

Recent opinion polls have indicated that the Socialists will fall short of a majority in parliament. That means they may have to negotiate alliances with smaller left-of-center parties, as they did in their last term, to pass legislation.

Sunday's ballot is open to around 10.8 million eligible voters.

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