Can a center-right government that has cut pay and pensions, enacted steep tax increases and slashed public services win re-election?

In Portugal, just maybe.

As the country began the official campaign period for its Oct. 4 general election Sunday, opinion polls suggest the center-right coalition government is roughly level with the main opposition Socialist Party.

The government adopted unpopular austerity policies, complying with the terms of a 78 billion euro (then $102 billion) bailout Portugal received in 2011 during the eurozone financial crisis. With the frail economy now showing signs of recovery, the government says Portugal cannot afford a return to borrow-and-spend policies.

The center-left Socialists, while promising to stick to eurozone spending rules, want to ease austerity and spur consumption that they say will make the economy grow faster.