Portugal's embattled PM dreams of quitting, says his father

LISBON (AFP) - Portugal's embattled Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, fiercely criticised for his austerity policies, wants nothing more than to resign from his job, the Premier's father said in an interview published on Wednesday.

"He wants one thing: To be done with it all. And the family will celebrate when he will be free from all of it," the 86-year-old Mr Antonio Passos Coelho was quoted as telling the Portuguese i daily.

In the interview, he said he had encouraged his son to become involved in politics, but had warned him against taking the helm of the government.

"Don't take charge of the government, the country is lost," he reportedly told his son before he became prime minister in June 2011 - a month after recession-hit Portugal was granted a 78 billion euro (S$126 billion) bailout.

"The people are with you now, but in a year they will boo you out," he added.

Two years of unpopular belt-tightening measures to meet the strict bailout conditions set by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have sparked widespread discontent in Portugal.

Mass protests have been held against new action to raise taxes and cut spending, including the shedding of 30,000 civil servant jobs, and the Prime Minister has frequently come under attack from the opposition and unions.

But the older Mr Coelho said he stood by his son's decisions. "There's no doubt that we need to make sacrifices. We need to accept austerity," he told the newspaper, adding that he himself was also feeling the pain from the austerity measures.

"I live on my pension. It's shrinking, shrinking. I don't know how I'm going to live," he said.