Portuguese voted in massive numbers on Friday (25 April) in the country's first electoral contest among political parties for 49 years, even though the leftist military rulers sought to belittle the vote's significance.
GV PAN People queuing to vote (4 shots)
GV PAN People entering voting hall
SV ZOOM OUT TO GV Soares in queue
SV Soares kissed by woman supporter PAN TO newsmen
SV Cunhal arriving to vote
Initials BJB/0125 BJB/0145
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Background: Portuguese voted in massive numbers on Friday (25 April) in the country's first electoral contest among political parties for 49 years, even though the leftist military rulers sought to belittle the vote's significance.
Shortly before the polls closed, voting officers in many parts of the country reported turnouts of up to 95 per cent of the electorate, which totals about 6,000,000.
Major Jose Costa Martins, a loading leftist in the military Revolutionary Council, which at present holds supreme power in Portugal, said the people had been voting "as if they were filling in football pools."
And although early results calculated on a nation-wide basis gave the centre-left Popular Democrats (P.P.D.) a comfortable load, with the Socialists running second, Major Martins forecast that the latter would win over-all.
However, another leading leftist in the Revolutionary Council, Vice-Admiral Antonio Rosa Coutinho, said: "No parties will win the elections. The people and the Armed Forces Movement have already won."
This statement echoed the theme of the military leaders, who warned that the country's political backwardness could "falsify the elections and urged voters to ignore the political parties and return blank ballots "rather than repent later."
But, after a noisy night of revelling to celebrate the first anniversary of the coup that last April overthrew the old right-wing dictatorship, voters began queuing up at polling stations in the thousands five hours before they opened.
And, after sporadic violence Thursday night (24 April), there were no reports of violence on election day itself, which assumed a festive air appropriate to the national holiday it was declared. Red carnations -- the symbol of last year's "flower revolution" -- flourished on thousands of lapels as rejoicing Portuguese flocked to the polls, most of them for the first time in their lives.
The elections are to choose as Assembly of 247 deputies to draw up a new constitution, but the Armed Forces Movement already has assured itself continued effective rule for the next three to five years.
Full results of the voting are not expected to be known until Sunday (27 April) at the earliest.