Age was no barrier as hundreds of thousands swarmed through the streets of Lisbon. The anti austerity protest – repeated in other cities – was a stark reminder to Portugal’s centre right coalition government that it had lost the consensus for its austerity measures.
Tax hikes and spending cuts since last years agreed 78 billion euro bailout have contributed to record unemployment.
Andre Pestana, one of the protesters said: “The government has failed on all its promises, and above all the sacrifices are always being made by the same people. I hope this rally is the first step in the process of changing things.”
Chants of “IMF is hunger and misery,” filled the air. The rallies, organised through the Internet were largely peaceful though there were reports one young man attempted to set fire to himself. Tomatoes and bottles were hurled at riot police who had cordoned off the offices of the IMF.
There is political discontent too. The main opposition socialists are threatening to end cross-party backing for the bailout over a planned tax hike. The government will present its draft budget next month.