2011 Portuguese protests

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Protests in Lisbon
Top of the demonstration in Lisbon
Protests in Lisbon

The 2011 March Portuguese protests, also referred to as the Geração à Rasca ([ʒɨɾɐˈsɐ̃w a ˈʁaʃkɐ], Portuguese for struggling generation) protests or Movimento 12 de Março (12 March Movement) was a series of protests in over 10 cities of Portugal over austerity, the economic crisis and labour rights (Manifest). They were the biggest since the Carnation Revolution in 1974 and organized without political parties or trades unions support.[1]

A Facebook event and a blog, created by a group of friends: Alexandre Carvalho, António Frazão, João Labrincha and Paula Gil, were the starting point.[2]


Music and the protests[edit]

A number of musical acts in Portugal had been involved in protest actions against the austerity measures at the beginning of the crisis. Music addressing Portugal's political situation became a part of local and national political protest narratives, that found music playing an important role in protests in Portugal—as they have since the Portuguese Revolution culminating in the 25 de Abril coup in 1974.

Among this music, was included traditional Portuguese music and instruments including gaitas, flautas, rhythm sections, and brass music. The organizers of Geração a Rasca, put out a general call for musicians to appear in the procession, and also included personal invitations to some of the musical acts to perform.

Various protest songs addressing the situation precarious situation in Portugal during the crisis were performed in Portugal. Deolinda's song "Parva Que Sou", talking about precarious working conditions Portuguese youth, in particular qualified university graduates, became an inspiration for some of the protesters.[3]

Homens da Luta in the Eurovision Song Contest[edit]

Other inspiration for the protests came from Homens da Luta, a comedian duo that won the Festival da Canção with a song about the "joy of the struggle", emulating social protests of the 1960s.[which?][4]


The Spring[edit]

Protests in Porto
Protests in Brussels, Belgium

Around 300,000 people gathered on 12 March in Porto and Lisbon alone.[5] Protests also occurred in several other Portuguese cities, Funchal, Ponta Delgada, Viseu, Braga, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Faro, Guimarães and Leiria.[6] Several Portuguese emigrants also gathered in front of the embassies of their country of residence to protest in Barcelona, London, Berlin, The Hague, Madrid, Lubliana, Luxemburg, Brussels, Maputo, New York, Copenhagen and Stuttgart.[7]


Spain's May protests were influenced by the Portuguese protests,[8] which in turn incited new protests in Portugal.[9]

On 23 March 2011, the prime minister José Sócrates resigned when new austerity measures failed to pass in the Parliament.[10]

On 15 April 2011, the initial organizers of the Geração à Rasca protest created the 12 March Movement "Movimento 12 de Março". This small group of young people gathered with other activists to create a movement with the objective to "Make every citizen a politician", a sentence from the Portuguese Nobel Prize José Saramago.[11] They promised to be an active voice promoting democracy in all areas of our lives".[12]

Over 80,000 people marched in Lisbon as part of a 15 October global day of protest against the usual suspects. Hundreds broke through a police cordon around the parliament in Lisbon to occupy its broad marble staircase, where a popular assembly took place.[13] About 20,000 people also rallied in Porto, Portugal's second biggest city.

The 12 March Movement, as others created after the Geração à Rasca protest, are still very active in several political and civic actions. After the demonstration "people discovered that they have 'a voice', they are more conscientious and more aware to political issues". Civil "society [is] more alive and awakened".[14]