INTRODUCTION: Portugal's ruling Democratic Alliance, under sustained attack from the left for the past four months, has held a major rally in Lisbon.
GV Crowd in bullring waving banners and placards chanting (3 shots)
CU Leader of the Social Democratic Center, Freitas Do Amaral speaking
GV Chanting crowd in bullring waving banners and placards
CU Prime Minister Pinto Balsemao speaking
GV Crowd chanting
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Portugal's ruling Democratic Alliance, under sustained attack from the left for the past four months, has held a major rally in Lisbon. Thousands turned up at the rally in a bullring on Monday (4 May). It was the first pro-government demonstration since the government of Prime minister Francisco Pinto Balsemao took office last January.
SYNOPSIS: The rally was seen as part of a counter-attack to communists and left-wing organisations that have been sniping at the government over its prices and income policies. This gathering came three days before the opening of the Socialist Party's congress at which their leader Mario Soares was facing a challenge from within its ranks.
Among the speakers was Senhor Freitas Do Amaral, the leader of the Social Democratic Center, which is the junior partner in the ruling alliance. Ten days before the rally, the government had presented parliament with a Bill to end military supervision of the country's democracy. The Constitutional Reforms Bill abolishes the Council of the Revolution, a military watchdog committee charged with ensuring observance of the 1976 Constitution. The Bill contains controversial clauses to erase the National Charter's commitment to socialism and to restrict presidential powers.
Prime Minister Balsemao accused President Ramalho Eanes of conducting a parallel foreign policy behind the government's back by making a private visit to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in West Germany a few days previously. Senhor Balsemao vowed his government would stay in office for its full four-year term, and would refuse to bow to pressure of what he called communist-inspired strikes. The prime minister also promised his administration would press ahead with its plan to open banking to the private sector, a move scheduled for debate in parliament later this month (May).