TRAFFIC JAMS, badly behaved children, disagreements between couples, red tape and queues all add up to make the Portuguese the most irritable, bad tempered and explosive nation in Europe.
This is the shocking results of a public survey carried out in 17 countries throughout the European Union by Reader’s Digest in conjunction with leading universities. But the British aren’t far behind, coming a close second according to the study. The reasons? Traffic jams, train and metro delays, work pressure, stress and, of course, the unpredictable wet weather. Third and fourth in the league tables were the Czechs, followed closely behind by the Spanish.
The leading question made in the survey was: What irritates Europeans the most? Many things drive the traditionally calm Portuguese up the wall, including noisy neighbours and the rude behaviour of public service sector workers. According to Jorge de Sá, professor of sociology and an expert in vox pop surveys, the conclusions of the study don’t reveal anything surprising. “The Portuguese are generally conformists in the sense that they like to have rules to follow, and follow them blindly,” he says.
On the other hand, the Portuguese also like to enforce and impose rules on others that they themselves are not prepared to obey or follow. This is partly down to years of an organised and totalitarian society, whereas other democratic countries, which have had more time to taste freedom and behave like individuals, such as the Americans, are more laid back and tolerant.
Pedro Rivera, another sociologist who studied the results, adds: “It all has to do with the question of perceived civic responsibility and the lack of it in reality. In other words, the Portuguese create expectations about the way people should behave and, when they don’t, they blow a fuse. “We see a lot of people getting hot under the collar because they’re having to wait for others at meetings but, in reality, they are incapable of being punctual themselves.” He continues: “Others are always complaining about the levels of noise from neighbours, yet they themselves produce the same levels of noise.”