With an alliance of Socialists, communists and radicals holding power, Portuguese voters appear set to seek some balance by electing a center-right politician as their head of state.

The official campaign period for the Jan. 24 presidential election started Sunday and the hot favorite is Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a former Social Democratic Party leader who had a popular TV show. Polls suggest he could get more than 50 percent of votes against nine rivals.

The president in Portugal has no executive power, which is held by the government, but is an influential voice.

Opponents of the new anti-austerity Socialist government, supported by the Communist Party and Left Bloc, fear a return to the reckless spending that forced Portugal to ask for a 78 billion-euro ($85 billion) bailout in 2011.