Thousands of Portuguese protested on Saturday against austerity, stepping up their opposition to the country’s €78bn bailout ahead of new spending cuts and tax hikes to be announced in the government’s 2013 draft budget.
The peaceful protest organised by the CGTP union came after the centre-right government ignited widespread anger this month with a hike in social security taxes that threatened to end Portugal’s so far high social acceptance for austerity.
Facing criticism from unions, opposition politicians and businesses alike, the government reversed the tax hike. But it is now rushing to find alternative measures to adopt in its 2013 budget to ensure the country meets fiscal goals under its bailout from the European Union, European Central Bank and IMF, the so-called troika.
Protesters marched through downtown Lisbon, shouting “Let the fight continue” and carried banners reading “Go to hell Troika, we want our lives back.”
“A year ago the prime minister told us the solution to the country’s problems was the agreement with the troika,” shouted CGTP head Armenio Carlos in a speech.