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Portugal has seen the biggest protests since the 1974 revolution - the people have unequivocally said no to the troika and no to austerity

It looks as if the Portuguese people have had enough of austerity. People came out in their droves last Saturday across the country under the slogan 'Screw the troika, we want our lives!'. Close to a million people protested against the government and the IMF, ECB and EU troika.

It was the biggest protest in Portugal since the revolution in 1974, signalling that the consensus over austerity is long gone and buried. The demonstration on 15 September marked the end of an era. The signal was decisive: the mass of the people went into the streets shouting 'IMF out of here', 'government resignation now' and 'we want our lives!'.

The troika and the government no longer represent the will and the political prospect of the majority of citizens, and so the door is now open for a new democratic election towards a future that rejects the troika's criminal and destructive agreements.

The political declaration with which this historical protest ended in the Praça de Espanha (Spain Square) was clear and unequivocal: first, end the troika memorandum; second, the government must resign (rejecting any other governmental solution which continues to implement the austerity regime); and third, it appeals for a popular general strike, organised not only by unions but by social movements and people in neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, faculties, hospitals and townships, to stop the country and demonstrate that only labour, knowledge and citizen participation can build a country.

This gigantic demonstration was not a ritual letting off of steam. It was the other way around. It built up pressure and most people out in the streets had never been on a protest before. There was a big emphasis on the need for organisation. There was an appeal for a gathering next Friday in front of the State Council, which will convene to discuss the political crisis and possible resolutions.

The people have spoken: no troika and no troika henchmen. No technocrat solution and no salvation government by the same people who have carried out the austerity plan thus far. The conservatives have been frightened into a corner and will now try and come up with a non-democratic solution for the popular display of anger last weekend. The people will push them further into the corner and protest against any solution that involves the troika.

A group of thirty people, from different political backgrounds, varied levels of intervention, and even people who had until now been apart from political and public activity proved that they can join together to do something, which is extraordinary. Based on a simple and clear consensus, standing their ground on a position, they appealed to the country and even beyond - on the same day there were big protests against austerity in Madrid. In Lisbon, in Praça de Espanha, there was a text read from comrades in Spain, supporting our common and international struggle.

The demonstrations are a sign of the times, and they send out message to all sectors that refuse a future of submission to austerity and the troika regime. We need to join together for a common purpose.

And so, with at least half a million in Lisbon, 150,000 in Porto, 20,000 in Coimbra, 10,000 in Aveiro and hundreds of thousands more in over 40 towns and cities across the country, the rotten propaganda consensus was torn. Today people know that this isn't the only possible way. They know that this is an impossible path and the only future is one without austerity and ending the Age of the Troika.

The struggle will go on, and it will be made by these people, and many others.

Feyzi Ismail

Feyzi Ismail

Feyzi teaches at SOAS, University of London, and has been active in UCU and the student movement of 2010. She is a contributor to The Assault on Universities: A Manifesto for Resistance, and a member of the Counterfire editorial board.

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