Merkel showers Portugal with praise for austerity

Ben Southwood
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ANGELA Merkel yesterday sang her praises for Portugal’s resilience in tackling the debt crisis that required a €78bn (£62bn) bailout.

Speaking during a six-hour visit to Lisbon, the German Chancellor hailed the country’s commitment to austerity and pledged solidarity.

Despite the praise, Merkel was greeted by hundreds of protestors who blamed cuts for worsening economic hardship, or saw the loan conditions as a violation of Portugal’s national sovereignty.

Though hundreds took to the street in protest against the lending conditions, the protests bore little resemblance to the violence that met Merkel when she visited Athens a month ago.

“The programme is being fulfilled by Portugal in an excellent way,” said Merkel at a press conference with Portuguese head Pedro Passos Coelho.

“I sense a great sense of determination here in Portugal to overcome this difficult phase.”

But Portugal’s apparent consensus on austerity has broken up. Yesterday business newspaper Diario Economico said Merkel was experimenting with Portugal like an “economic Frankenstein”.