Today could be Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates’s last day in power as his minority government faces a crucial parliamentary vote.
The main conservative opposition, the Social Democrats have refused to back him and his latest round of austerity measures.
They are needed to halve the public deficit in order to avoid a European Union bail-out. But failure to get the bill passed would mean the collapse of the government and trigger snap elections.
Public opposition to a long round of cuts has grown in the country; last Saturday thousands marched through the capital complaining of record high unemployment among the young and the impoverishment of Portugal’s pensioners.
But failure to agree a new budget plan could mean the country follows Greece and Ireland in going cap-in-hand to Brussels for a financial rescue.