(AP) Portugal's government says it won't stop its unpopular austerity measures, even if it's a big loser in municipal elections Sunday.
The election of mayors and councilors is the first nationwide ballot since the center-right coalition took office two years ago, weeks after a 78 billion euros ($105 billion) bailout.
Portugal is locked into a program of tax hikes and spending cuts in return for the rescue. The jobless rate has climbed to 16.5 percent, and a third straight year of recession is expected in 2013.
Though the elections have no direct bearing on the government, the ballot is expected to reflect the public mood.
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho says he won't budge from his economic reform program, which his opponents claim is leading Portugal to ruin.