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Social tension feared as crisis-hit Portugal votes

Social tension feared as crisis-hit Portugal votes
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As spending cuts bite, street protests could multiply and become increasingly violent, according to an expert who talked to our correspondent in Portugal.

“The economic situation is very tense at the moment because people are seeing significant cuts in their pay slips at the end of the month. So they will be forced to change their habits,” said Boaventura Sousa Santos, Director of the Centre for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra.

With money tight, and tension in the air, Portuguese politicians are being warned not to make matters worse.

“In these difficult financial times, we are the only European country having a presidential election that might just lead to legislative elections,” said

Boaventura Santos. “It is important that politicians bear in mind that this is not the time to have a big political crisis.”

As for the EU’s role in the crisis, Boaventura Santos does not mince his words.

“In real terms, the EU is divided,” he said. “This might change but recently there was a moment of disorientation. When one member state has a problem, it matters for Europe, in a real sense. It is not just a problem for people from the south.”