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Portugal's voters dare hope austerity will end

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By Euronews
Portugal's voters dare hope austerity will end

<p>What Laura Lavandeira buys at the fresh food markets in Porto has changed in the last several years, as her pension was reduced by around 500 euros per month — a government austerity measure.</p> <p>She now gets around 1,500 euros, which is not so bad compared to other pensions in Portugal.</p> <p>“I only buy essentials. I far prefer fish rather than meat, but I buy cheaper fish than I used to. I have to choose carefully which vegetables to get. I was raised in Africa and I love tropical fruit, but I don’t buy it anymore, it’s become much too expensive.”</p> <p>Lavandeira’s pension might be enough for her, but she has to support her daughter as well, who has been unemployed for four years, and her granddaughter.</p> <p>Lavandeira is campaigning. She joined the new United Retirees and Pensioners Party. Austerity got her into politics, at age 75.</p> <p>Out encouraging people to vote, she asked: “Do you want the prime minister out?” The prime minister’s name, Coelho, means rabbit. </p> <p>“Of course!”</p> <p>“Then vote for us.”</p> <p>Lavandeira’s motivation: “They’ve cut everything. We don’t own anything in this country. It’s been a long time that I’ve been seeing the decline in education and health services. Everything has gone to ruin, and if we don’t fight it, who will?</p> <p>Our journalist asked: “Do you hope the country can change direction with a new government, whichever party wins?”</p> <p>“I hope that if some of us are elected, we’ll be able to contribute to that. If things go on the way they have been going, I have no hope at all.”</p> <p>Nélson Aguiar is part of a generation younger than Lavandeira, but his life is no easier. He works three different jobs, to pocket around 650 euros per month. </p> <p>“I worked as a security guard till six o’clock this morning. I slept for three to four hours, which is the usual. Then I gave classes till one pm. At half past three this afternoon, I start at the gym, where I work till seven-thirty. Then I’ll have two hours for dinner, a bath and a rest, and then I’ll go back to the security guard job till morning.” </p> <p>Nélson is 30, and a World Champion kickboxer. He lives in his parents house, and eats meals with them, on their budget. But he hasn’t lost hope. He dreams of having a job with a contract and rights. </p> <p>“I am going to vote. I hope the new government will try to improve conditions, not only for precarious workers like me, but that it will try to solve other problems our country has.”</p> <p>Our correspondent Filipa Soares summed up: “Young or old, the Portuguese don’t seem to believe in politicians or that the next elections will bring big changes.”</p>