Protests greet Merkel on visit to Portugal


Angela Merkel faced scattered protests yesterday in Lisbon, where she delivered Germany’s endorsement of an austerity drive designed to honour a bailout loan but which critics fear may only deepen the slump.

“The situation is difficult but what Portugal is doing, it is for the future,” the German chancellor told a joint news conference with prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho, who has seen popular patience and political consensus begin to fray in recent weeks. The Portuguese premier dismissed criticism such as that in a leading business newspaper accusing the chancellor of pursuing “Frankenstein experiments” with Portugal’s economy.

But Portuguese patience with tax hikes and spending cuts, imposed under last year’s €78 billion rescue programme, has begun to run out as the worst slump since the 1970s continues. A general strike is set for tomorrow. – (Reuters)