Portuguese opinion poll puts leading parties neck-and-neck, despite governing party austerity

An opinion poll in Portugal puts the governing Social Democrat Party roughly level with the main opposition Socialist Party five months ahead of a general election, confounding predictions that the government's austerity policies would bring a voter backlash.

The poll of voting intentions published Thursday in daily Jornal de Negocios gave the Socialists 37.3 percent and the Social Democrats 37.2 percent, with other parties making up the rest.

The Socialists propose rolling back public spending cuts and tax hikes the center-right government has introduced since Portugal needed a 78 billion-euro ($89 billion) bailout in 2011. That rescue came after six years of Socialist rule.

The poll by Aximage was conducted between May 7-10 and consulted 605 people by fixed-line or cell phone. The margin of error was 4 percent.