Several thousand Portuguese protest austerity cuts

Several thousand people took to the streets of Lisbon on Saturday to protest austerity measures demanded by international lenders in the debt-ridden country.

The march, called by the main CGTP union, ended outside the presidential palace, where protesters called on conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva not to approve next year's budget.

Portugal, which obtained a 78-billion-euro ($102-billion) bailout from the European Union and IMF in May 2011, is applying radical measures to raise taxes, cut spending and reform its economy so as to revive confidence on financial markets and to fund itself normally on the sovereign debt market next year.

The centre-right coalition government has pledged to reduce the public deficit to 4.5 percent of GDP under the unprecedented austerity budget adopted in late November calling for steep tax hikes.

"We demand that the president listen to the people and refuse this budget," said CGTP chief Armenio Carlos, carrying a large banner reading "This Budget Is Theft".

Unemployment has soared to nearly 16 percent overall in recent months, and the rate is more than double, at 39 percent, among young people.

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