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Portugal shouted ‘enough’!

In Europe

From Presseurope.eu | By Daniel Oliveira | More than a million people of all ages took to the streets of Portugal on March 2 to demand an end to austerity. The growing discontent could bring down the political system that has been in place since the fall of the dictatorship.

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Some of the retirees who took to the streets Saturday were participating in a demonstration for the first time in their lives. In other words, they lived through the dictatorship, the 1974 revolution, the PREC [Processo Revolucionário Em Curso], the ongoing revolutionary process – that is to say, the transition to democracy] and through our young democracy without ever having made use of this right. And it is only now, at more than 60 years of age and after almost 40 years of democracy, that they feel propelled into the street.

We live in a time of peaceful revolt that still fits inside the political system, as we know it today. But that system has entered its decadent phase. If the political world persists in not responding to the mood of the country, unpredictable events will take place. I believe (or at least I hope) that they will take place within the spirit of democracy and without imperilling it. After two years of austerity and misery, however, everything can change. In the social protests, much has already changed. It is not only merely a corporatist embodiment of union and partisan structures, and it is no longer even dominated by them. Whether this is good or bad I do not know. It’s just how it is.

If the opposition fails to embody a credible alternative, and if the main party of the Portuguese right starts to fall apart, then the first to seize this moment, whether they are serious players or populists, comedians or statesmen, may provoke a political earthquake. Because the social earthquake is already here. Without, apparently, stirring the institutions and parties to react.

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