As the international press fixes its gaze on Portugal once again, it seems to do so with little awareness of its disproportional impact in that country’s opinion- and policy makers. Portuguese journalists, pundits and politicians closely monitor each reference to the country’s situation. They frequently cite foreign speeches and articles to justify their own interpretations of the crisis in Portugal as well as possible solutions to overcome it. Yet taking international media discourse at face value, using it as incontrovertible analytical basis and central focus of policy, risks dangerously underestimating the full implications of the current situation.
One day after Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho announced even more drastic cuts in the fields of health, education, social security and state companies, the online edition of Público, the most prestigious Portuguese newspaper, ran a full story listing excerpts and soundbites from mainstream American, British, French and Spanish news outlets. American Economist Paul Krugman also made the day’s headlines after the state news agency LUSA called attention to a post in his New York Times blog urging the Lisbon government to ‘just say nao’ to more austerity. Opinion columns regularly cite the Financial Times, and every mention of Portugal in the Economist inevitably makes its way into at least one of the multiple talking heads panel shows airing in each of the cable news channels.
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