July 19, 2019 / 12:54 PM / a month ago

Portugal's Socialists extend lead ahead of October election: poll

FILE PHOTO: Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa arrives to take part in a European Union leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s ruling Socialists have extended their lead slightly as the favorite to win the country’s national election in October, an opinion poll showed on Friday.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s center-left Socialists were seen taking 37.5% of the vote, according to the survey by Aximage for newspapers Jornal de Negocios and Correio da Manha, up two percentage points from a previous poll in June.

The Socialists would still fall short of the around 42% of the vote needed to garner a majority in the Portuguese parliament, but with around 38% they would only need the support of one other party to form a government.

The main opposition, the Social Democrats, were seen taking 23.6% of the vote, slightly up from 23.1% the previous month, while the conservative CDS-PP saw support drop to 4.9% from 6.6% last month.

Costa won the parliamentary support of two far-left parties, the Left Bloc and the Communists, when the Socialists came to power in 2015. These parties saw support stand at 9.4% and 6.8% respectively in the Aximage’s poll.

As the Socialists would probably need to again seek either a similar alliance or a coalition partner to govern, a potential new kingmaker has emerged as the People-Animals-Nature party (PAN). It recently won a seat in the European Parliament and, according to the poll, could grab 4% of the votes in October.

The pollsters surveyed 601 people between July 12 and 15, with a margin of error of 4%.

Reporting by Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Susan Fenton

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