Portugal: Huge anti-austerity protests the largest since revolution

September 20, 2012
Hundreds of thousands of people protested on the streets of Lisbon against austerity measures on September 15. The nation-wide p

It looks as if the Portuguese people have had enough of austerity. People came out in their droves on September 15 across the country under the slogan “Screw the troika, we want our lives!”.

Close to a million people protested against the government and the troika of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Union and European Central Bank, which are pushing savage austerity.

It was the biggest protest in Portugal since the revolution in 1974, signalling that the consensus over austerity is long gone and buried. The signal was decisive: the mass of the people went into the streets shouting “IMF out of here”, “government resignation now” and “we want our lives”.

The troika and the government no longer represent the will of the majority of citizens. The door is now open for new democratic elections that reject the troika's criminal and destructive agreements.

The political declaration that came from this historical protest was clear and unequivocal: first, end the troika memorandum; second, the government must resign (rejecting any government that continues to implement austerity); and third, for a popular general strike, organised not only by unions but social movements and people in neighbourhoods, workplaces, schools and elsewhere, to stop the country and demonstrate that only labour, knowledge and citizen participation can build a country.

This gigantic demonstration was not a ritual letting off of steam. It was the other way around. It built up pressure and most people in the streets had never been on a protest before.

There was a big emphasis on the need for organisation. There was an appeal for a fresh protest in front of the State Council, which will convene to discuss the political crisis and possible resolutions.

The people have spoken: no troika and no troika henchmen. No technocrat solution and no “salvation government” by the same people who have carried out the austerity plan.

The conservatives have been frightened into a corner. They will try to come up with a non-democratic solution in response to the popular display of anger.

The people will push them further into the corner and protest against any solution that involves the troika.

The demonstrations are a sign of the times. They send a message to all sectors that refuse a future of submission to austerity and the troika regime. We need to join together for a common purpose.

And so, with at least 500,000 in Lisbon, 150,000 in Porto, 20,000 in Coimbra, 10,000 in Aveiro and hundreds of thousands more in over 40 towns and cities across the country, the rotten propaganda consensus was torn.

Now, people know that this isn't the only possible way. They know that this is an impossible path and the only future is one without austerity and ending the “Age of the Troika”.

The struggle will go on, and it will be made by these people, and many others.

[Abridged from CounterFire.org.]

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