Prime Minister Carlos Mota Pinto of Portugal and his four-month-old non-party government are in the midst of a political crisis which is threatening t bring the government down.
Prime Minister Carlos Mota Pinto of Portugal and his four-month-old non-party government are in the midst of a political crisis which is threatening t bring the government down. Two major issues are sparking the criticism -- an unpopular austerity budget and a controversial policy of returning some collectivised farmland to private ownership. There have been numerous anti-government demonstrations throughout the country. but the largest so far was in Lisbon on March the seventeenth.
SYNOPSIS: Tens of thousands were in the mass demonstration, staged by communist-led unions. Floats carrying huge caricatures of government figures were paraded through the centre of the city. One caricature was of Junior Agriculture Minister Augusto Ferreira Do Amaral.
Senor Do Amaral, responsible for the government's farm policy, has offered to resign. Protestors carried banners saying "One down," the rest to go" and "out with Mota Pinto".
The communist-inspired demonstrators called for an end to Senor Pinto's government, and to any right-wing government, and to any right-wing government. The last pro-communist administration in Portugal was led by Prime Minister Vasco Goncalves. As chanting demonstrators passed by his Lisbon home, his family displayed the former Prime Minister's picture.
The pro-communist government seized private farmland in 1975, and divided it into Soviet-style collectives. There are now about four hundred and fifty collectives in an area covering about one third of Portugal. The country's largest political party, the Socialists, say they fear government strong-arm tactics in returning some farms to private hands. Yet it was the Socialists who passed the land reform law during the administration of Prime Minister Mario Soares.
It was raining by the time the demonstrators reached the Alameda Afonso Henriques Square to hear speeches, but the rally continued under the protective cover of umbrellas. Trade union leaders attacked the policies of the non-party government and called for Prime Minister pinto's resignation. Parliamentary elections are not due in Portugal until next year, but the communists want to appoint a caretaker government to organise earlier elections. Portuguese President Antonio Ramalho Eanes says it is up to the parties in parliament to oust the government it they don't approve of its polices. He has denounced taking political problems to the streets. Although President Eanes has re-confirmed his confidence in the Pinto government, right-wing parties say he has not spoken strongly enough in support of land reform.