The elections in Greece and France at the weekend show the level of discontent that is spreading over austerity ,but one country; Portugal, is quietly knuckling down and doing what it can to help kick start its economy.
The Portuguese government has decided to scrap four of its public holidays in an attempt to bolster its flagging economy, cutting its number of holidays from 14 to 10.
It is a move that should give the embattled Spanish government a pause for thought. Currently the Spanish enjoy a whopping 28 public holidays, a whole month of time off!
Is it any surprise that the nation finds itself in an economic quagmire?
Alvaro Santos Pereira, Portugal’s economy and unemployment minister, said: “The idea is to work harder and better to have a country that produces more riches, country that will create jobs and certainly a country that is more competitive”.
The decision on what holidays to cut was negotiated with the Vatican as many of them were Catholic holidays. Is there a correlation between the faith of a nation and its economic prosperity? If this decision proves successful then it could see the end of more religious days.
The Portuguese have already raised taxes and made cuts to public sector wages to decrease its deficit and to improve its economic situation. Last year the country accepted a 78billion Euro bailout with the ECB, IMF and EU. Portugal’s plans appear to be working as it recently passed the EU’s test for deficit reduction.
The four days affected are All Saints Day on 1 November; Corpus Christi, which falls 60 days after Easter; 5 October, which commemorates the formation of the Portuguese Republic and 1 December, which marks Portuguese independence from Spanish rule. The holidays will be scrapped from next year for a period of five years.
Perhaps the Spanish and Italians should follow Portugal’s lead rather than whine about the austerity measures. In comparison the Germans have 8 public holidays and the British have 9. Their economies are in a far better state than Spain’s.
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