What’s Up, Europe? Gloom over austerity… and soccer in Portugal
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Kai Ryssdal: Big day in Portugal today. They’re gonna get the next slice of their bailout money. The International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Comission — the Troika in the vernacular — said Lisbon’s doing the austerity thing pretty much right. Figuring out what that actually means gets us to today’s installment of What’s up, Europe, and Alison Roberts. She’s the BBC’s Portugal Correspondent in Lisbon. Good to have you with us.
Alison Roberts: Thank you for having me.
Ryssdal: I wonder what it’s like being in a country that has had its share of budget and debt problems and yet is now out of the limelight. You’re right next door to Spain, where so much attention is focused, and Greece. Is something that’s part of the daily conversation?
Roberts: Well actually, the spotlight in Portugal is on Greece. It’s rather bizarre because a few years ago you didn’t really hear that much about Greece in Portugal and now you hear about it all the time. And that’s partly because the Portuguese are worried that they’re going to be “another Greece.” The Portuguese really for the most part are really just getting by. When everything seems to be going up in price and you see your own income being squeezed and no prospect of any decent pay rises in the near future, really a lot of people are just focusing on that.
Ryssdal: When Portuguese want to not think about all the bad economic news, what do they do? What passes for fun nowadays?
Roberts: Well, the other thing that is dominating the news bulletins in the moment — as it very often does in Portugal — is soccer. We have the European Championships coming up just at the weekend. Just at the moment when people might be hoping that stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most famous soccer players in the world, might be giving them a little bit of a lift, things aren’t looking so good at the moment. Not the mention the fact that on Saturday Portugal’s first game is against, who else, but Germany.
Ryssdal: Oh god. Alison Roberts in Lisbon, thank you.
Roberts: You’re welcome.
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