On the eve of Portugal’s general election several young people were arrested in clashes with police as they protested in Lisbon.
Inspired by similar demonstrations in neighbouring Spain they are angry at the prospect of spending cuts, tax rises, and rising unemployment in the debt-ridden country.
On the day before elections, anything that can be construed as electioneering is banned in Portugal.
Fears that people will stay away from the polls promtped the president to speak on Saturday.
“It would be incomprehensible for the the country at this critical moment that citizens wouldn’t vote, and let others make a choice that is essential for everyone. Also, outside our country people wouldn’t understand that at this difficult time the Portugese would let go of their own future.”
Socialist caretaker Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who has been in power since 2005, looks as if he is heading for a defeat after his austerity measures were rejected.
But if the centre-right Social Democrat Pedro Passos Coelho does win, he will simply face the same challenge of managing a bail-out of 78 billion euros.