The Portugal's center-right government is facing backlash from opposition parties after it slammed the country's Constitutional Court's decision to struck down three of the measures in its state budget for 2014.
"The government's declarations deserve rejection and censure from the public, because they mean an attack to the constitution of the republic, to the Constitutional Court and to the state. Manifestly, the country cannot be ruled by politicians who govern against the constitution," said Alberto Martins, Socialist parliamentary leader, at parliament on Thursday.
The government's dilemma came after the Constitutional Court threw out several measures aimed at narrowing the country's budget deficit, including cuts in employees' salaries over 675 euros (918 U.S. dollars).
The court also considered cuts in sickness benefits of 5 percent and cuts in unemployment benefits of 6 percent illegal, as well as cuts in survival pensions.
The debt-laden country has been cutting spending and imposing harsh tax rates to meet its ambitious deficit targets included in the 78-billion-euro bailout program it signed with its international lenders in May 2011.
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said the court has plunged the country into a "permanent constitutional upsurge," calling for better "scrutiny" on behalf of the court's lawyers and demanding a "political clarification."
"How is it possible that a transparent and democratic society can empower someone who has not been held to scrutiny?" he asked.
He added: "One thing is us not agreeing with certain laws, having big political divergences in terms of the nature of the legislation that is approved. Another thing is to say that that legislation is unconstitutional."
On Thursday the Socialist Party, Communist Party and Left block spoke out against the government's move, calling for the president's intervention and questioning why he has remained "silent."
"The courts and the law are essential grounds for democracy and for the republic. The country therefore awaits an intervention from the president of the republic," said Socialist parliamentary leader Alberto Martins.
Communist MP, Antonio Filipe, said lawyers have the right to be "independent," and to have "freedom to decide merely according to the constitution, and not according to the government's orders."
The Left Block said the government was taking the Constitutional Court "to war" for not complying with its decisions. "The government's mask has fallen," said MP Pedro Filipe Soares. "The government doesn't understand that its obligation is to comply with the court's decision."
Local media has described the government's position against the Constitutional Court as an "attack without precedents."