Portugal crisis: The Eurovision singers giving voice to a nation’s anger
Popular anger at measures aimed at averting a bailout has sent Portugal into an economic and financial tailspin, write Bruno Waterfield in Brussels and Alison Roberts in Lisbon.
By Bruno Waterfield, in Brussels and Alison Roberts in Lisbon
26 Mar 2011
On the face of it, Portugal’s Eurovision song contest entry is just another piece of euro-trash pop, a cheesy folk-disco number sung by a comedy moustachioed troupe that is, definitely, too camp to be taken seriously.
But first appearances can be deceptive – and the song by the band Homens da Luta (Men of Struggle) has become an ironic anthem for thousands of Portuguese angry at the misery about to be imposed on them by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
That prospect loomed even greater last week when Portugal’s government lost a crucial parliamentary vote over its own austerity programme – approved by the EU – that included a deeply unpopular plan to tax pensions.
As a result, José Sócrates, the socialist prime minister, was forced to resign and call an election, throwing the country, already struggling to shore up its economy, into weeks of confusion.
Behind it all looms the near certainty that Portugal, having failed to put its own financial house in order, will now have no choice but to accept the terms of a £66 billion EU-IMF bailout in a few weeks’ time. Voters fear that will bring to Portugal the misery of the deeply unpopular spending cuts and tax rises imposed on the Irish and Greek peoples last year.