Portugal had been the model European bailout recipient, adhering to the strict austerity mandates that go with bailout money. But its once patient people are now joining the uproar heard in Spain and Greece against stiff austerity measures.
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The government is about to unveil a new budget that raises taxes even further and cuts more public sector jobs. Portuguese sentiment has made an about face and protesters are planning to circle government buildings on Monday when the budget announcement is made.
The uprising has led to a rude awakening: that austerity without growth does not work and that Portugal’s government has lost the trust of its people. They are in a state of austerity fatigue.
The real turning point resulted from a proposed redistribution of social security funds in September by cutting the taxes of employers while raising the taxes of employees.
The Portuguese people now feel empowered and the Portuguese prime minister is struggling to regain the confidence of its citizens.
The government damaged its credibility by not assessing how its citizenry would respond to added measures.
The social security issue is not likely to be forgotten soon and may result in a political failure that Portugal’s prime minister will not be able to overcome.