EUobserver: Portuguese head breaks ranks, urges ECB bond-buying

10 August 2012

Portugal's President, Anibal Cavaco Silva, has broken the government's tacit pro-German line and urged the European Central Bank (ECB) to start buying bonds from troubled eurozone countries.

Portugal signed up to €78 billion in aid from the eurozone bailout fund and the International Monetary Fund in 2011, after Greece and Ireland. EU and German politicians have constantly praised the government in Lisbon for its reforms in an attempt to show that not all southern countries are like Greece.

Popular resistance to austerity has been less visible in Portugal than in Greece and Spain, even though unemployment remains over 15 per cent and the economy is still in recession. The open Portuguese appeal comes after more veiled demands from the Spanish and Italian governments, as well as the IMF, for the ECB to play a new role.

This is unacceptable in Germany's view: it wants the ECB to act on the model of the Bundesbank - which is completely independent from politics - and stick to its original EU mandate on keeping down inflation.

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