His opponent, Socialist Mario Soares, 61, a former prime minister who is the best known Portuguese politician outside Portugal, has managed to win the endorsement, at least in principle, of all the leftist candidates who took part in the first round and of almost all the leftist parties. Soares finished second in that round with 25% of the vote, far behind [Freitas]. But the leftist candidates together polled a majority of the votes.
During the latest phase of the campaign, Soares, a personable politician, put Freitas on the defensive by trying to tar him with the old dictatorship of the late Antonio Oliveira Salazar and his successor, Marcello Caetano. Soares accused Freitas of receiving money from a Salazar fund set up to pay informers for information about the activities of university students. Freitas denied the accusation, insisting that he never took part in politics until the 1974 revolution that overthrew the dictatorship.
Freitas, who is rather stiff and awkward on the platform, campaigned on the promise of a forward look for impoverished Portugal. His slogan, "Go Forward, Portugal," is plastered throughout the country. Freitas promised that he could guarantee stability by working closely with Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva, who endorsed Freitas and campaigned alongside him. Cavaco Silva's Social Democrats, a centrist party, organized most of the Freitas rallies.