As the nation’s politicians lock horns in the run-up to autumn elections, the “truth” is that austerity and the policies demanded by the troika have seen Portugal’s public debt “skyrocket” 36.4%.
In simple terms this means that the Socialist government under currently-jailed prime minister José Sócrates left the country with a State debt of €164 billion, while the austerity-led government of the PSD under Pedro Passos Coelho with the backing of CDS-PP coalition partners has taken that total to €224 billion: an overall increase of €59.8 billion.
The data, supplied by public-debt ‘watchdog’ IGCP, translates into Portugal’s debt costing each of its citizens €21,350 – when in 2011 it cost around €15,650.
Carrying the news this morning, national tabloid Correio da Manhã equates the average annual increases to the money spent by Social Security on pensions: €14.9 billion – and stresses that while Europe’s attentions may be focused on Greece for the time being, “various specialists” are calling for the need to restructure Portugal’s spiralling public debt.
But for now, this reality is being kept as fuzzy as possible.
The PSD-CDS coalition is concentrating on warning the electorate of the folly of voting Socialist, and vice-versa.
Polls meantime put the possible results of the looming elections as too close to call, with the Socialists taking a minute lead – the kind that would require a coalition.
Speaking to Expresso, Socialist stalwart Ferro Rodrigues said any future coalition with the PSD would have to be with a new party leader. Passos Coelho is the duplicitous face of austerity, he said, “the personification of hypocrisy, because he thinks one thing and says many times the other… He acts like an angel, knowing that the concrete results of his policies are terrible for people”.
And as the backbiting is set to continue, Greece woke up this morning to a VAT increase of 10 percentage points (from 13% to 23%).
Britain’s Sky News said it was “hard to imagine” people facing this kind of hardship overnight, but it is exactly the same hardship suffered by Portugal as a result of the €79 billion bailout in 2011.