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Posted by nelson on August 11, 2017

Olhão positively revelled in the spotlight yesterday as prime minister António Costa walked the streets, opened the bustling town’s massively popular shellfish festival and basically kissed everyone who wanted to be kissed, and otherwise shook hands and slapped backs and shoulders.

It was another moment to celebrate the Algarve’s predominantly Socialist roots in a month when election posters are going up everywhere.

October 1 sees the country’s municipal elections, and in Olhão, voting could truly go either way.

As opposed to Socialist bastions like Lagos, Aljezur, Portimão, Vila do Bispo, etc., Olhão’s populace last time round (September, 2013) was fairly evenly divided: PS won with 32% of the vote, with PSD close behind on 26%.

Considering municipalities like Aljezur clinched a majority of over 62%, PS ‘success’ in Olhão in six weeks time is by no means assured.

Thus a beaming prime minister Costa - fresh from a holiday audience in Tavira with President Marcelo - was very much on a major mission of feelgood PR.

It was an almost re-run of events in 2015 when he visited the festival pre- what became the Socialist Party’s ‘snatched election’ victory.

Even running the gauntlet of yet another tolls protest, led by Bloco de Esquerda colleague and Portimão MP João Vasconcelos, did nothing to dampen Costa’s stride.

With ‘happy photos’ all over social media, one Facebook commentator quipped: “Whoever criticises the government for this or for that dissolves into smiles and kisses the minute they see the prime minister, asking to be able to snap a selfie with him.

“António Costa was wearing his “popular politician” guise, posed for photos, kissed children and even found the time to eat Ria Formosa shellfish”.

It was yet another ‘noite em grande’ for the increasingly popular seaside town - and how much Costa’s visit will have helped the local PS party hang on to power now remains to be seen.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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