Tens of thousands of Portuguese have staged anti-austerity demonstrations in the country’s two most populated cities, demanding the resignation of the government.
On Saturday, thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Lisbon against new wage and pension cuts planned in the country’s 2014 budget.
According to organizers, up to 70,000 people attended the rally.
The protesters called on President Anibal Cavaco Silva to reject the 2014 budget bill and send it to the Constitutional Court to be shot down.
The bill includes the cutbacks Portugal has agreed to implement under the terms of its international bailout package.
President Cavaco Silva can decide to send the budget to the Constitutional Court and Portuguese citizens can also plead the court to check its compliance with the constitution.
Over the past year and a half, the court has already rejected some government austerity measures, forcing it to come up with alternatives.
The protesters shouted anti-government slogans, such as, “Government out!” and “Liars, liars, we want new elections!”
Armenio Carlos, the leader of the country’s largest union, the 750,000-strong CGTP, told the rally in Lisbon, “Let’s fight so that the measures in this budget are declared unconstitutional.”
Meanwhile, thousands of anti-austerity protesters held another demonstration in the country’s second largest city of Porto.
According to organizers, between 50,000 to 60,000 people attended the rally in Porto, but police put the number of the participants at 25,000.
The long-drawn-out eurozone debt crisis, which began in Greece in late 2009 and later on reached Italy, Spain, France , Portugal, Britain, Ireland, and Cyprus is viewed as a threat not only to Europe but also to many of the world’s other developed economies.
The worsening debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered massive demonstrations in many European countries.
Battered by the global financial downturn, the Portuguese economy fell into a recession, which compelled the country to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout loan in 2011.
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