Portuguese protest austerity budget before parliament buildingSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 02/11/2012 5:34 am in World / 1 comment
LISBON, Oct. 31 — Thousands of anti-austerity protesters gathered in front of Portugal’s parliament building on Wednesday after lawmakers approved earlier in the day an austerity budget for 2013.
The chanting protesters accused the government of “mortgaging the future” of the country. A “vigil” protest will continue into the night, aiming at denouncing the belt-tightening being imposed on Portuguese and demanding the resignation of “a government that is commanded by the troika.”
The demonstration turned violent when some of the protesters pulled down the iron fences preventing them from breaking into the parliament building and burning garbages in front of it.
The 2013 budget approved by the parliament included draconian tax increases required by international creditors aimed at curbing the swollen Portuguese public deficit.
But the tax hikes came as the country is already hit by a biting recession.
“The budget the government presented for 2013 is a reaffirmation and aggravation of a policy that will lead the country to disaster,” said Ana Rajado from the Movement Without Employment (MSE).
In a separate meeting held Wednesday at the opening of Portugal’s 1st International Congress on Science, Entrepreneurship and Employability, Porto Mayor Rui Rio defended the troika – namely the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“Portugal should have better predicted the situation and applied measures best suited to solving the nation’s problems,” Rio said. “In a democracy, we should respect and listen to minorities. However, the minority interests should not override the interest of the majority,” he said.
Portugal agreed last year to a 78-billion-euro (about 101 billion U.S. dollars) bailout plan set by the troika.