An estimated 200,000 protesters in Lisbon crammed the wide Liberdade Avenue and the Rossio Square, carrying banners with slogans urging a policy change to reverse surging unemployment, precarious working conditions for young people and falling living standards.
Last year, Portugal reported a record unemployment rate of 10.8 percent.
In addition to Lisbon protesters, another 80,000 people demonstrated in Portugal’s second largest city of Porto, and a Facebook appeal gathered 65,000 signatures in support of the move, LUSA news agency reported.
“Half of Portugal’s active population is either unemployed or precarious, which shows that the situation is untenable,” said 27-year-old Joao Labrincha, unemployed and one of the four organizers of the rally, quoted by AFP.
The government announced a series of extra spending cuts and tax changes on Friday aimed at bringing its budget deficit down to 4.6 percent in 2011.
The measures are designed to convince markets that Portugal can solve its problems without needing an international bailout such as those extended to Greece and Ireland.