Centre-right Sousa wins Portugal presidential poll

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image captionMarcelo Rebelo Sousa may end up playing a more active role as Portugal's president

A veteran centre-right politician and television pundit, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has won Portugal's presidential election.

With almost all the votes counted, the 67-year-old polled 52% - enough to avoid a run-off.

His closest rival, leftist Antonio Sampaio da Novoa, won 22.89%.

The post of president is mainly ceremonial, but the head of state can dissolve parliament. A shaky left-wing coalition currently governs Portugal.

Mr Sousa vowed to be an independent president and said he wished to restore national unity while "our country is emerging from a deep economic and social crisis". "The people are the ones with the power," he told supporters.

Observers suspect the governing coalition may unravel within a year or so, so the new president may end up playing a more active role, the BBC's Alison Roberts reports from Lisbon.

Sweeping cuts

A record 10 candidates took part in Sunday's election.

Mr Sousa secured the required 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off on 14 February.

Known as "Professor Marcelo" to his supporters, he has been involved in politics since his youth, helping to establish the centre-right Social Democratic Party.

He has the support of right-wing parties, but says he will not be reliant on them. He has pledged to do everything he can to ensure the current government's stability.

He will take over in March from Anibal Cavaco Silva, a conservative who served two consecutive five-year terms.

A centre-right coalition won the most votes in October's election, but lost its overall majority in November, to be replaced by an alliance of left-wing parties which rejected its austerity programme in parliament.

Portugal was one of the countries hardest hit by the crisis in the eurozone, accepting an international bailout in exchange for sweeping cuts.

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