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Portugal's government set to be re-elected, exit poll shows

Portugal's centre-right coalition government is likely be re-elected despite imposing unpopular austerity measures to tackle the country's debt problems, according to an exit poll.

The coalition received 38%- 43% of votes, the poll on public broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa said. The main opposition centre-left Socialist Party came second with 30%-35%, it said after Sunday's election.

At the headquarters of the coalition, made up of the Social Democratic Party and its junior partner, the Popular Party, supporters erupted in cheers when the exit polls appeared and chanted "Victory! Victory!"

Socialist officials, meanwhile, were stunned and some were tearful.

Portugal needed a 78 billion-euro (£58 billion) bailout in 2011 amid the Eurozone's financial crisis. The government has cut pay, pensions and public services and increased taxes since then.

Similar measures have brought a backlash against governments in other Eurozone countries, and Portugal also witnessed large street protests and numerous strikes. But economic improvements in recent times and Portugal's traditional preference for moderate parties - as well as fears of knocking the recovery off-track - appeared to help the government to another four-year term.

Portugal still faces big problems. Government debt remains high at almost 130% of gross domestic product - the third-highest in the European Union. Portugal is Western Europe's poorest country in financial terms.

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