Thousands protest austerity cuts in Portugal

  • Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across Portugal to protest government austerity cuts on Saturday.

    In the capital, Lisbon, many called on the government to resign while others slammed the "Troika" of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, which pushed for the austerity measures in return for a financial bailout.

    The conservative government has been forced to introduce harsh tax rises in a bid to reduce a huge budget deficit.

    The economy is expected to contract by 2 percent this year, the third consecutive year of recession, and unemployment sits at a record 17.6 percent.

    The demonstrations, which were organized using social media, also have the support of Portugal's main trade union federation.

    The protests coincided with a visit by inspectors from the EU and the IMF, which demanded the cuts as a condition for a $101 billion bailout in 2011.