Portugal’s Socialist Party (PS) chose Pedro Nuno Santos to lead the party in the next parliamentary elections following the resignation of Antonio Costa.
The former infrastructure minister — backed mainly by the left wing of the progressive party — won the PS election on Saturday against Interior Minister Jose Luis Carneiro with 62 percent of the vote.
On March 10, Nuno Santos, 46, will face Luis Montenegro of the center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) in the snap election called after Costa’s decision to resign following a corruption probe launched in November against him and several members of his administration.
Costa’s resignation also had repercussions in Brussels — where the former prime minister was considered a front-runner for one of the EU’s future top jobs.
Most polls suggest a tight race between the PS and PSD, while the hard-right Chega party could increase its chances of disrupting Portugal’s two-party system.
After his victory was announced Saturday night, the new Socialist candidate called for party unity ahead of the next general election. “My responsibility is to present an ambitious and reformist project,” he said.
Nuno Santos is known for his negotiating skills — which helped the Socialists to form a government with far-left parties in 2015.
A year ago, he resigned as infrastructure minister after a scandal involving a large severance payment by the national airline TAP, which fell under his remit.
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