Portuguese vote amid fears of more austerity

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“Europe is changing. All those postwar policies designed to give dignity to the old, the infirm and the unemployed are being taken away,” she said after voting in Lisbon.

The Bank of Portugal has predicted that economic hardship will be “particularly severe” in coming years, with an “unprecedented” drop in family income.

Portugal has lived beyond its means during the past decade despite average annual growth below 1 percent. It took advantage of cheap loans as a member of the 17-nation eurozone to build up debt, which financed its Western European lifestyle of welfare entitlements and job security.

Portugal needs to increase its exports amid feeble domestic demand. As a member of the eurozone, it can’t devalue its currency, but it can reduce pay and take other steps to cut costs.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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