Portugal. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the triumph of a “normal” president

The Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who was triumphantly re-elected on Sunday, is a moderate conservative, an old political backpacker who has become popular as a commentator and maintains the image of a head of state close to the state.

In Bermuda shorts at the checkout

A president patiently waiting for his turn in a supermarket queue in Bermuda, who doesn’t hesitate to throw himself into the sea to help two young girls whose canoe has tipped over or who he’s sharing a meal with Homeless: anecdotes multiply and no longer surprise the Portuguese.

Naturalness and spontaneity have become the trademark of the head of state who is always ready to be photographed with his admirers for a “marselfie”, a popular hashtag and neologism recognized by certain dictionaries.

Feel good everywhere

Whether it’s a deadly fire or a success in the national sport, this 72-year-old man with sparkling blue eyes is often the first to react and sometimes even get there behind his wheel in the car by surprising the socialist government or their own entourage.

In circles of power as in the most disadvantaged, with his attraction to everyone, he asserted his style as the “President of Affects” who takes the time to listen to and comfort those in need.

A brilliant student who dreamed of ruling the country …

This proximity made him one of the few politicians who call the Portuguese by their first name, which he took from Marcelo Caetano, his parents’ wedding witness and who ruled Portugal between 1968 and 1968 as the successor to the dictator Antonio Salazar during the Carnation Revolution of 1974.

Born on December 12, 1948 in Lisbon, Rebelo de Sousa came from the political elite of the time. His father, a doctor, was a minister and colonial governor under Caetano.

Young Marcelo, a brilliant student, graduated from law school averaging 19 out of 20 and had an early dream of ruling his country.

… and a feared columnist

A hyperactive young man, he quickly approached the regime’s most moderate circles, which demanded more openness, and in 1973 helped create the weekly expresso, of which he became one of the most feared columnists.

Without ever giving up his career as an eminent law professor, this devout Catholic, divorced and father of two, entered politics after the advent of democracy by participating in the founding of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), for which he Became Member of Parliament before becoming Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.

“I’ve known more failures than victories”

After a hiatus of several years, he returned to the top of the stage in 1996 when he took the reins of the PSD, then in the opposition. However, a few months before the 1999 general election, he missed his chance by throwing in the towel after a right-wing coalition project failed.

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

“Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa doesn’t really have to campaign. He himself has a habit of saying that he has wanted to campaign for twenty years,” said Paula Espirito Santo, a political scientist from the University of Lisbon.

Because this free electron of political life has managed to firmly establish its popularity beyond its conservative camp, thanks to a long career as a star commentator on television, which he only gave up in order to become president. .