Anti-austerity protests mark Merkel's Portuguese visit

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Anti-austerity protests mark Merkel's Portuguese visit

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Hundreds of people turned out to greet Angela Merkel on her first official visit to Portugal.

Unfortunately, perhaps for the German Chancellor most of those who took to the Lisbon streets were there to protest against austerity measures they blame her government for.

Merkel’s brief trip was meant to be another show of support for a bailed-out eurozone member trying to restore the country’s flagging fortunes.

It thus fell to Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho to defend the chancellor from claims she’s driven Portugal into poverty.

He blamed Portugal’s debt crisis on overspending by previous governments: “It was the lack of competitiveness of our economy that has brought us to the situation of almost unsustainable public debt and large external deficits. Our European partners such as the International Monetary Fund have been helping us to recover from this structural situation,” he said.

Merkel’s visit was also aimed at reassuring voters back home that money’s being well spent, which may be why she announced a series of German led youth training programmes.