Portugal parties take different approaches to campaigning amid Covid

By Paula Fernandez

Lisbon, Jan 20 (EFE).- From Covid-19 tests to sound trucks, Portuguese political parties are adopting strategies during the campaigning period and ahead of the legislative elections, amid a severe surge in coronavirus infections.

The southern European country held several elections during the pandemic, including the presidential elections in January 2021 during a spike of infections and deaths, as well as a full lockdown

The Portuguese Directorate-General of Health has not clarified specific rules for the campaigning period before the elections on January 30, but politicians take precautionary measures in times of coronavirus.

The Socialist Party that has ruled since 2015 said goodbye to dinner parties and campaign street rallies.

The most significant day of the party led by Antonio Costa is usually held on the last day of the two-week campaigning period in the central neighborhood of Chiado in Lisbon, but this time it is still being mulled depending on the pandemic situation.

The Socialists also have imposed strict rules in their meetings behind closed doors; it is mandatory to be inoculated with at least the third vaccine dose, or undertake a test provided by the party itself.

The opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), meanwhile, has opted for using sound trucks in streets to avoid large crowds and closed spaces.

A PSD member tells Efe their sound trucks have 60 seats and a space to organize talks and debates.

The Portuguese Communist Party and the Left Bloc prefer outdoor events, as leader of the latter Rui Tavares has been walking with two face masks on.

Other parties have not given up the dinner parties, as the case with the Christian Democratic Party, the Liberal Initiative, and Chega, the far-right party that has its campaigning agenda full.

Chega leader Andre Venture, who was infected with Covid-19 in August and has not been vaccinated against the virus, walks around with no mask on and even gives hugs to people.

On Sunday, when the election campaign kicked off, Ventura celebrated his birthday by blowing candles and sharing the cake with his supporters.

Some factions are using social networks and other digital media such as the People-Animal-Nature party, which organizes online sessions for several districts.

Ana Mendes Godinho, the Portuguese minister of labor, said this week in an interview with Efe that the campaigning period has been different in coronavirus times and that the internet is playing a much more important role than before.

It is a campaign that is much more digital, with communication through internet groups, television and radio, she explained.

Portugal is experiencing a serious wave of infections, with daily infections reaching over 52,000. Currently, some 400,000 people of the country’s population of 10.2 million are in isolation. EFE


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