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Siege of Portuguese Parliament: “This is not our budget”

This post is part of our coverage Europe in Crisis

A siege of Portuguese parliament [pt] took place on October 15, 2012, the day when Portuguese government officially submitted the state budget for 2013 [pt] to the President of the Parliament. The draft proposal, which is expected to be put to the vote on October 31, unveils growing austerity and cuts on public services such as healthcare (-17%) and education (-14.5%), inevitably leading to more unemployment [pt] and impoverishment of the population.

On Twitter, Facebook and blogs many were surprised [pt] by the lack of coverage on TV and criticized [pt] biased and sensationalist news about the demonstration in front of São Bento Palace (home of the Assembly of the Republic). Meanwhile, citizens made the news with their own media, livestreaming the events and tweeting under the hashtag #OE13 (from “Orçamento de Estado 2013″, 2013′s State Budget).

A video by Ministério da Verdade (Ministry of Truth) on Youtube summarizes the siege, which started at 6 p.m.:

"Several thousand people gather in front of the Portuguese parliament to demand the resignation of the government following the announcement of a new budget." Photo by Xavier Malafosse copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

“Several thousand people gather in front of the Portuguese parliament to demand the resignation of the government following the announcement of a new budget.” Photo by Xavier Malafosse copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

João Paulo Pedrosa, on Praça Stephens blog, writes his impressions of the “young peaceful people” he found when he got in front of the Parliament:

São, todavia, jovens à rasca, à rasca com as dificuldades do momento, o desemprego, a precaridade, a insegurança do presente e, sobretudo, o medo do futuro e é para eles que todos temos que ajudar a encontrar respostas.
Há contudo, bem expressa na barraquinha de comes e bebes que lá foi instalada, uma certa utopia de igualitarismo social que, infelizmente, não faz parte dos nossos tempo cruel e implacável. Vivemos, pois, um tempo péssimo, pena que seja logo o nosso. Mais que felicidade, hoje, a palavra mágica, é esperança.

They are, however, the scraping-by youth, scraping-by with the difficulties of the moment, unemployment, precariousness, insecurity of the present and, above all, fear of the future and it is for them that we all have to help find answers.
There is, however, well expressed in the small stall of food and drink that was installed there, a certain social utopia of egalitarianism which, unfortunately, is not part of our cruel and unforgiving time. We therefore live in a terrible time, too bad it is ours. More than happiness, today, the magic word is hope.

"A man wears a mock 'Pinocchio' nose as thousands gathered outside the Portuguese parliament to demonstrate against renewed austerity measures introduced by the Portuguese government." Photo by Violeta Moura copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

“A man wears a mock ‘Pinocchio’ nose as thousands gathered outside the Portuguese parliament to demonstrate against renewed austerity measures introduced by the Portuguese government.” Photo by Violeta Moura copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

"Don't fuck my job". Photo by Xavier Malafosse copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

“Don't fuck my job”. Photo by Xavier Malafosse copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

In another video by André Matos Cardoso on Vimeo, one can hear protesters chanting slogans such as “the people united will never be defeated”:

"Naked demonstrators protest among a couple of thousand who gathered outside the Portuguese parliament to protest renewed austerity measures introduced by the Portuguese government. " Photo by Violeta Moura copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

“Naked demonstrators protest among a couple of thousand who gathered outside the Portuguese parliament to protest renewed austerity measures introduced by the Portuguese government. ” Photo by Violeta Moura copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

"Riot police monitor protests as a fire burns in front of the parliament building as demonstrations take place over government imposed austerity measures designed to ease Portugal's economic and financial crisis". Photo by João Caetano copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

“Riot police monitor protests as a fire burns in front of the parliament building as demonstrations take place over government imposed austerity measures designed to ease Portugal's economic and financial crisis”. Photo by João Caetano copyright Demotix (15/10/2012)

Philosopher and researcher Porfírio Silva, on his blog Machina Speculatrix, explains why he is against the idea of a siege of parliament:

Se querem ser realmente imaginativos, façam um parlamento alternativo para um orçamento alternativo. Peguem na proposta do governo (quando existir), discutam alterações concretas e aprovem-nas, façam-nos saber do resultado para alimentar o debate entre os cidadãos. Prometo que nem vou analisar as credenciais “representativas” de tal “parlamento alternativo”: apenas analisarei o orçamento “popular” daí resultante, pelo seu próprio mérito.

If you want to be really imaginative, make an alternative parliament for an alternative budget. Take the government's proposal (if any), discuss specific amendments and approve them, make us know the outcome to fuel debate among citizens. I promise that I will not even analyze the “representative” credentials of such “alternative parliament”: I will only examine the “popular” budget that results from this, on its own merits.

Feedback keeps pouring in on the wall of the Facebook event created for October 15 (with almost 4.500 participants), and a new event has been created for October 23, calling for an “Assembly of the Siege” to plan for upcoming actions.

This post is part of our coverage Europe in Crisis

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