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Portugal observes Carnival holiday, despite crisis

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Portuguese government’s attempt to make people work more by scrapping the traditional Carnival holiday has flopped as most companies and public services shut down despite an economic crisis.

Portugal needed a (euro) 78 billion ($103 billion) bailout last year to avoid bankruptcy. It is stuck in a steep recession and enduring record unemployment.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho refused to decree the usual day off for Fat Tuesday celebrations, saying the "national emergency" required sacrifices.

But the streets of the capital Lisbon and second-largest city Porto were mostly deserted, and thousands were expected to attend street parades where politicians viewed as killjoys are likely to be the target of ridicule.

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