Portugal’s snap parliamentary election coming up this Sunday has much of the country in a sombre mood. Many people say a new government will not change anything. They feel the Socialist leader Jose Socrates or Social Democrat Pedro Passos Coelho will simply have to implement harsh economic measures imposed by the international financial bailers in exchange for rescue help. University students say they are the hardest hit members of society.
Political science student Rodrigo Rivera said: “Nowadays, the majority of students make an effort to study. They either work like I do or they live on minimal financial support. All they can look forward to afterwards is surviving on 500 euros per month. That’s pretty violent.”
Unemployment in Portugal has soared to a three-decade high. It is in a recession, and economists say companies have become increasingly fearful of hiring since Lisbon requested a bailout on April 7.
Carlota Veiga, also studying political science, is disgusted to have basically just two parties to vote for: “I am mad with politics, I am. But I think that, between someone who is bad and doesn’t care, and someone who is bad but pretends to care, I think I prefer someone that pretends to care. And, even though I am not going to get a job [even though] I am going to try very hard to find one, I don’t think that politicians can do anything about it, really.”
Some polls favour the Social Democrats to win the election, under Coelho. This is a common name in Portugal, and means ‘rabbit’. Speculation is rife over what carrot and stick approach is even remotely possible.