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Who is Marcelo de Sousa, the ultra popular president re-elected on Sunday?

He just embodies the difference between “popular” and “populist”, a kind of anti-Bolsonaro. Re-elected on Sunday January 25 with more than 60% of the votes of the 1st round, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa He is a moderate conservative and an old political backpacker, but also a man known for being close to the people.

Anecdotes about his story abound. At 72, is a president patiently waiting his turn in shorts in line at a supermarket, who does not hesitate to throw himself into the sea to come to the aid of two young men whose canoe has overturned, or to share a meal with the vagabonds …

Whether it’s a deadly fire or a national sports hit, the man with the bright blue eyes is usually the first to react and sometimes even arrives on the scene behind the wheel of his car, without reaching the government. socialist or his own entourage.

“Marcelo”, the president with “selfies”

Naturalness and spontaneity have become the hallmark of the Head of State, always ready to be photographed with his admirers by a “marselfie”, a popular hashtag and a neologism recognized by certain dictionaries. As comfortable in circles of power as with the underprivileged, with his charm of all, imposed his style of “president of affections”, who takes the time to listen and comfort those who are in distress.

This closeness made him one of the few politicians that the Portuguese call by his first name, which he takes from Marcelo Caetano, witness to the marriage of his parents and who, succeeding the dictator Antonio Salazar, ruled Portugal between 1968 and the Revolution. of the Carnations of 1974..

A “feared columnist”

Born in Lisbon on December 12, 1948, Marcelo de Sousa came from the political elites of the time. His father, a doctor, was a minister and colonial governor of Caetano. Brilliant student, the young Marcelo graduated in law with an average of 19 out of 20, and from a very young age he dreamed of ruling his country.

Hyperactive young man He quickly approached the more moderate circles of the regime that demanded more openness, and in 1973 he participated in the creation of the weekly Espresso, from which it becomes one of the most feared chroniclers.

Without ever giving up his distinguished career law professor, This fervent Catholic, divorced and father of two children, entered politics after the advent of democracy, participating in the founding of the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center-right) of which he became a deputy, before becoming Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.

“I have known more failures than victories”

After an interlude of several years, he returned to the front of the stage in 1996, when he took the reins of the PSD, then in opposition. However, a few months before the 1999 legislative elections, he lost his chance by throwing in the towel after the failure of a right-wing coalition project.

“I had more failures than victories, so I always put things in perspective. When I lost, it wasn’t the end of the world. And when I won, I didn’t think I was the best.”he said recently, in response to critics who accused him of not getting involved enough in the campaign that would seal his re-election.

“Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa doesn’t really need to campaign. He himself often says that he has been campaigning for twenty years, “explains political scientist Paula Espirito Santo, from the University of Lisbon. Because this free electron of political life has managed to consolidate its popularity, even beyond its conservative field, thanks to a long career like Star television political commentator, whom he only resigned to become president.

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