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THE WEEK AHEAD

LISBON : A Question of Degree

January 08, 1991

Portugal holds the first round of its presidential election Sunday with the outstanding question less who wins than by how much.

At 67, socialist-statesman Mario Soares is seeking a second five-year term. He has challengers from the Communist left and the conservative right, but the ruling Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva did not name a candidate.

Most Portuguese like the way the right-center government and the socialist president have collaborated to spur rapid economic development. But whether Soares garners a majority outright, or is forced into a second-round runoff against conservative Christian Democrat Basilio Horta adds a touch of mystery.

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