Commend Opposition to Failed Austerity Measures

Target: Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho

Goal: Commend Portuguese leaders for opposing failed austerity policies, and urge the Prime Minister to reform his policy approach

Less than a year after Greece’s financial and banking markets narrowly escaped total collapse, another beleaguered Mediterranean state is teetering on the brink of crisis. After years of European Central Bank (ECB) imposed austerity, Portugal’s government experienced a “reshuffle” of its government cabinet leaders. Despite this temporary stability for the ruling coalition, several high profile cabinet members resigned in protest of failed austerity measures. Commend these political leaders for their opposition to austerity, and urge Prime Minister Coelho to reform his nation’s precipitous policy approach.

According to Reuters and ThinkProgress, recent events in Portugal sparked concerns throughout the Eurozone of a renewed contagion crisis. ThinkProgress notes that Portugal “is two years into a bailout plan that imposed spending cuts, tax hikes, and structural reforms in return for funds to keep the government solvent” and prevent Portugal from being forced out of the Eurozone. The austerity imposed by the bailout plan has left many Portuguese with “austerity fatigue,” with “steep cuts” to many public services – the very services many struggling unemployed or underemployed Portuguese rely upon in the face of sluggish economic recovery.

The widespread call for austerity has led to myriad political consequences in other European countries. In both France and Belgium, recent elections heavily favored left wing parties, in part because of widespread beliefs about austerity’s viability. Such measures in the UK have been cited by some economists as the culprit behind a deep double-dip recession, as well as more recent concerns of a potential third recession in just six years.

In Portugal, several leading politicians have clearly had enough. The very minister charged with implementing austerity plans resigned, prompting Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho to quickly appoint “a replacement who also supports the cuts.” That appointment “led Foreign Minister Paulo Portas to quit in protest,” with other members of Portas’ party indicating that they may follow suit. A mass resignation of coalition leaders may prompt new elections, which could prove disastrous for Coelho and his party.

Commend Minister Portas and his colleagues for standing not only with mounting evidence of austerity’s failures, but also for supporting an increasingly frustrated Portuguese electorate. Sign this petition urging Prime Minister Coelho to reform his policy approach and demand reasonable lending terms from the ECB.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Coelho,

Several ministers of your cabinet recently resigned over your appointment of a pro-austerity minister to oversee concomitant policies. After more than two years of bailout-imposed spending cuts, tax increases, and drastic structural changes, Portugal remains in a severe economic and financial predicament. Simply put, austerity is not working out as promised, and Portugal’s citizens are suffering.

While we understand the political predicament you face, with European Central Bank and European Union leaders in an advantaged position to impose austerity essentially without opposition, the ongoing situation is unsustainable. Unemployment was 18% for May 2013, and further austerity-driven cuts are expected to worsen employment prospects in your country. We strongly urge you to reconsider your approach to stabilizing your financial and economic crisis. Austerity has widely failed your people, among many others in the EU: stand up for their interests now.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: António Martins-Tuválkin, via Wikimedia.

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