Street violence and a bomb explosion have followed a decision by Portugal's Prime Minister Mario Soares to stake the life of his 16-month old socialist minority government on a vote of confidence in the country's parliament.
Street violence and a bomb explosion have followed a decision by Portugal's Prime Minister Mario Soares to stake the life of his 16-month old socialist minority government on a vote of confidence in the country's parliament. The violence came in a confrontation between right-wing demonstrators and communists on Thursday (1 December) the anniversary of Portugal's independence from Spain in 1640.
SYNOPSIS: About 40,000 right-wing demonstrators marched down Lisbon's central Avenida da Liberdade making their way towards the Communist Party headquarters.
The Communist party appears to hold the key to the survival or defeat of Mr Soares' Socialist Government. The Socialists can only call on 102 votes in the 263 seat parliament following defections within their party, and would need the support of the Communists to defeat the combined strength of the Social Democrats and the Conservative Centre Democrats. Mr Soares sought the vote of confidence when the opposition refused to accept a stringent economic package, and the Communists haven't yet said how they'll vote.
But an explosion, apparently caused by a bomb, interrupted the demonstration. It ripped through timber, seriously injuring one man ???
It was later reported that police had found an unexploded grenade nearby with the pin removed.
Massed ranks of Communist Party supporters had been guarding their headquarters before the explosion, but they ran as riot police with shields and batons charged them, and drove them into side streets. Some demonstrators had fought with sticks and stones before police could bring the riot under control.
The march had been organised by rightwing journalists and their supporters. Their main slogans were 'Portugal for the people, not for Moscow'. A date for the vote of confidence has not been finalised.