On Saturday 2 March, towns and cities across Portugal were filled with protesters demanding the resignation of their country’s centre-right government. In Lisbon (below), up to 500,000 people joined the rallies. Organisers say as many as 1.5 million turned out across the country.
Portugal is regarded as the “good pupil” of the Eurozone, because its government implemented a brutal package of cuts to public sector pay and services, demanded by the EU-IMF-European Central Bank “troika”, after receiving a €78bn bailout in 2011. Yet it has not halted the crisis: last year, unemployment reached 16.3 per cent, with 39 per cent of young people without jobs.
Some protesters sang songs from the 1974 Carnation Revolution, when Portuguese people overthrew their country’s dictatorship.
The banner below reads: “To hell with the Troika, it’s the people who give the orders”. The first line – Que Se Lixe A Troika – is the name of the the group that organised the protests, and the second – O povo e’ quem mais ordena – is a line from the revolution-era song “Grândola, Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso.
A series of protests and strikes have already forced the government to make some concessions on cuts. In January Portugal’s president ordered a legal inquiry into the austerity measures.