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Portugal government faces backlash over austerity

Tuesday, 16 Oct 2012 | 6:17 AM ET

LISBON, Portugal -- Portugal's coalition government is facing a hail of criticism after announcing steep tax increases in its draft budget for next year.

Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar met Tuesday with the governing parties' lawmakers, aiming to quell signs of revolt in their ranks ahead of Parliament's vote on the budget proposal later this month.

The broad national consensus that formed around the terms of Portugal's (EURO)78 billion ($101 billion) bailout last year is fraying amid the tough new austerity measures. The backlash presents another problem to Europe's efforts to contain its debt crisis.

Opposition parties and trade unions led the outcry against the latest belt-tightening, while 10 police were slightly hurt in scuffles with a small group of demonstrators outside Parliament late Monday after Gaspar announced his plans.