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Avante elctoral

In a mixed bag of results marked by massive abstentions a substantial swing to the Democratic Unity Coalition of Portuguese communists, ecologists and democrats in September local elections gave it 11.1% of the vote; 34 mayors (an increase of 6) and 39 extra councillors to a total of 213. It is now the strongest force in the Lisbon area.

The Socialist Party made small gains, mainly at the expense of the misnamed right-wing Soocial Democratic Party. The Left Bloc of ex-maoists, trotskyites and former euro-communists contined its decline.

Statement by the PCP Central Committee on 1 October 2013

The Central Committee of the Portuguese Communist Party met on October, 1 to discuss the outcome of the local elections held on September, 29 and their repercussions on the current political situation. The Central Committee discussed the economic and social situation and the ensuing political and institutional crisis, assessed developments in mass struggle and the demands it puts on the Party’s organization and defined fundamental tasks and guidelines aimed at mobilizing the Party and strengthening its activities.

1. The Central Committee of PCP stresses the importance of the victory achieved at the local elections that were held last Sunday. It represents a victory of trust and hope over disillusionment and conformity which is inseparable from the struggle of the workers and the people. It proves that it is in the hands of workers and the people, as well as in their votes, to combine the required willingness and energy to engage, with their support to CDU, in a committed and confident struggle for a fairer, more developed and a sovereign country. The outcome of the local elections brings more confidence and strength to the struggle to defeat the disastrous course imposed by right-wing policies and  opens perspectives of an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy.

The Central Committee of PCP emphasizes the value, importance and significance of the electoral outcomes. They reflect voters’ acknowledgment of the work done by CDU elected representatives in local government, their track record, honesty and competence, their commitment to the interests of the people and to public service.

The significant electoral progress reflects the coherent and determined role of the forces that make up CDU –  PCP,  PEV and Intervenção Democrática – in defending the interests of the workers and populations and in resisting and fighingt against right-wing policies.

2. The significant score achieved by CDU, the only political force that got more votes, increased its share of the vote and achieved a larger number of electoral majorities, comes in the wake of a solid and sustained progression of CDU in Portugal’s political life and bears witness to a broad movement of support and confidence of a growing number of Portuguese citizens.

The following outcomes are particularly noteworthy: an increase in the number of votes in absolute terms (CDU scored 600,000 votes and increased its share of the vote from 10.6% to 12.0% in the municipal assemblies); the victories in ten new municipalities (Alandroal, Alcácer do Sal, Beja, Cuba, Évora, Grândola, Loures, Monforte, Silves, Vila Viçosa) which, despite the loss of four municipalities (Chamusca, Crato, Nisa e Vendas Novas), represent an increase in the number of majorities from 28 to 34 (the largest number ever since the local elections of 1997); the confirmation of CDU as a majority political force in Lisbon’s Metropolitan Area (where, besides the consolidation and strengthening of positions in the Setúbal Peninsula, it has now a majority in Loures); the victories in 169 of the current parishes (corresponding to 236 of the former parishes which existed in 2009, which represents an increase of 23 with regard to the outcome of the elections held in that year); the election of a second councillor in the city of Lisbon; and the significant progress made in areas where CDU is a minority force  (in local governments, municipal and parish assemblies, namely in Northern and Central Portugal and in the Algarve).

The Central Committee stresses in particular the fact that CDU has increased its share of the vote in a context of a growing number of abstentions and an ideological ofensive against political parties and politicians. With its track record, honesty and competence, CDU has refuted the idea so often conveyed that «all the political parties are the same».

Every position that was conquered in these elections, every single one of the nearly 3,000 mandates obtained by CDU candidates will represent yet another contribution to our work and commitment to the defense of peoples’ interests, to the promotion of local living conditions and to the struggle for a fairer and more developed country.

The Central Committee salutes the hundreds of thousands of voters who voted for CDU (in particular, those who voted for the first time) and reaffirms its commitment that the confidence shown in CDU will be met by activities that will live up to their aspirations, interests and rights.

The Central Committee of PCP salutes the Party’s and JCP’s organizations and members, CDU’s candidates and activists who put up a campaign of awareness-raising and mobilization that was essential to promote the coalition’s project and to draw attention to the irreplaceable role of workers’ and people’s  struggle in building a new policy and taking a different road forward.

3. The massive defeat of PSD and CDS (reflected in the loss of more than 550,000 votes and a drop of more than 10 percentage points) represents a clear condemnation by workers and the Portuguese people of the ruinous policies of impoverishment into which the two parties are dragging the country and people’s lives.

While attempts have already been made to reject a nation-wide interpretation of the outcome of these elections, it cannot be ignored that such outcome reflects in electoral terms the growing political and social isolation of the parties that are in government and reinforces the need, possibility and urgency of their demise.

The electoral score of PS – whose votes decreased with respect to 2009 (less 263,000 votes and a drop from 36.7% to 34.9 %) – reflects the distancing of many voters from their recent track record in government but principally from their support to the Pact of Aggression and the key elements of the government’s current policy, despite this party’s attempt at presenting itself as an opposition party that takes its distance from the government.

It is of particular significance that the parties of the national Troika – PS, PSD, CDS – have lost more than 800,000 votes which reflects a clear condemnation of the right-wing policies that they have been pursuing for years.

BE’s electoral stand has once again declined and there has been an increase in the number of mandates won by lists designated as citizen-voters lists. This reflects an increase in the number of candidacies with different and contradictory origins and the fact that they benefitted from a very obvious promotion.

4. The outcome of the elections and especially the current of support to our proposals and activities, the very significant participation of young people and in particular of thousands of independent activists that make the CDU coalition a movement for convergence, unity and democratic participation, are very tangible elements and give us confidence for the political and electoral battles that lie ahead to bring about a better life for all.

II

1. The degradation of the country’s economic and social situation and the deepening of the political and economic crisis characterize the situation into which the country has been dragged as a result of the signing by  PS, PSD e CDS of the «memorandum of understanding» /Pact of Aggression with the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank.

The situation cannot be dissociated from the consequences of the right-wing policies and the process of capitalist integration being pursued in the European Unio and which have been aggravated and intensified by the implementation of the Pact of Aggression. This makes the dismissal of the government and the calling of an early general election not only urgent but indispensable, as a requirement for a break with the right-wing policies and the adoption of patriotic and left-wing policies by a patriotic and left-wing government that will uphold the values of the April Revolution in Portugal.

The current situation is characterized by an onslaught against democratic institutions and by the persistent confrontation with and infringement of the provisions of the Constitution by the government, tha parliamentary majority supporting it and those who want to bring about a programme of concentration and centralization of capital based on the exploitation and impoverishment of the Portuguese people and the plundering of the country’s resources

The support granted to a government that lacks political legitimacy and is socially isolated, as reflected in the resignations of  Vítor Gaspar e Paulo Portas as a result of the degradation of the economic and social situation and growing struggles by workers; the attempts made to salvage the right-wing policies, including an initiative aimed at bringing together those political forces that signed the Pact of Aggression two years ago in a «commitment for national salvation»; the promulgation of laws that are in clear violation of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic; the deliberate decision to keep in office a government that is discredited  – all these facts bear witness to the President of the Republic’s unacceptable attitude which is in contradiction with the constitutional duties of his office and reveal his determination in ensuring that the implementation of the Pact of Aggression and its associated policies are pursued that will lead to a national disaster.

The decision by the President of the Republic to keep the government in office and his refusal to call an early general election have not represented a step to address the country’s problems but instead have contributed to deepen Portugal’s economic, social, political and institutional crisis.

In the face of the disaster and the trail of destruction left by those who have signed the Pact of Aggression, PCP reaffirms that the commitment for national salvation that is required has to be built around the interests and rights of workers, the people and the country, the Constitution and the values of the April Revolution enshrined in it.

2. Thirty-seven years of right-wing policies supported by the PECs and the Pact of Aggression have brought together PS, PSD e CDS but have led to the country’s economic decline and caused social regression. This has been a period characterized by a deepening economic recession, by the massive destruction of jobs, by cuts in wages and pensions and by a growing number of bankruptcies of micro, small and medium enterprises. It has been characterized by the dramatic increase in job insecurity and unemployment (which is affecting more than 1.4 million people), by forced migration, widespread poverty, in particular extreme poverty, by reduced social protection and by the jeopardizing of people’s right to health and education services. During these years, the inequalities and injustice have deepened and, as a result of an increased exploitation of workers and increased taxes on workers’ and pensioners’ income, there has been an enhanced transfer of income from labour to capital.

The governmental reshuffle in the wake of July’s political crisis was but an attempt at patching up a government that has been hopelessly shaken and only served to confirm its alignment with big capital and its commitment to implementing policies that will lead to a national disaster.

The attempt by big capital and the domineering interests at depicting those developments as the start of a «new political cycle» by a «new government» – supported by unconfirmed indications that the economy was picking up again  – were but a propaganda coup that was readily contradicted by the very facts and by the deepening of the recession, as well as by the growing exploitation and impoverishment of the country and its people.

The new package of social terrorism that is being planned but has so far been partially hidden from view and that will come into force with the adoption of the State Budget for 2014 will worsen this state of affairs: it will represent a new attack against the State’s social functions and public services, it will lead to thousands of dismissals, namely in Public Administration, to an increase in the number of working hours, a reduction in the protection for the unemployed and those on sick leave, new confiscations of wages and pensions, the pursuit of a criminal policy of privatisations.

Such measures will only worsen the country’s economic decline, the consequences in social terms will be even more dramatic, and they will be used as a pretext to perpetuate the Pact of Aggression. The Central Committee of PCP warns against the disastrous consequences of the implementation of a policy – which is being imposed by blackmailing the country with the prospect of a second financial rescue while planning a brutal offensive with the foreign Troika in the context of the eigth and ninth «evaluations» – which corresponds entirely to the interests of the so-called «markets» (in fact, financial capital and the objectives of its loan sharks) and will contribute to intensify the process of exploitation, the plundering of the country’s resources and national dependency.

The Central Committee reaffirms that only the outright rejection of the Pact of Aggression, the dismissal of the government and a call for an early election will create the conditions to overcome the difficult situation into which the country has been dragged, ensure the required economic growth and affirm its right to a sovereign development.

3. The explicit acknowledgment by PS that it is committed to the «memorandum of understanding» that it signed with PSD and CDS, which entails a submission to the policies and general thrust of the European process of capitalist integration, clearly shows that there is a need to associate to the rejection of the Pact of Aggression and the dismissal of the government  a strengthening of PCP and CDU as a necessary condition to ensure that the right-wing policies are defeated.

The struggle for a developed and sovereign Portugal cannot be dissociated from the struggle against the European Union, the strategy of federalization and its key instruments to submit peoples and their states. The struggle for a developed and sovereign country requires also a struggle to build a Europe of peace and cooperation between equal and sovereign States, the defence of the interests of workers and of the country at all levels, namely in the European institutions, an enhanced presence and activity of PCP with its coherent and determined stand in support of national sovereignty and independence, the improvement of people’s living conditions and the development of the country.

The Central Committee of PCP denounces the involvement and alignment of the PSD/CDS government as well as of PS with the most aggressive circles of US imperialism and the major powers in the European Union, reflected in their support to the plans for a military intervention in Siria. The growing interference and interventionism of imperialism in various parts of the world is part of its objective of world hegemony, which is inextricably linked to the worsening of capitalism’s structural crisis, and represents a serious threat to peace, the sovereignty of states and peoples’ rights.

4. The urgency of a break with right-wing policies and of a change in the country’s political life that will pave the way  to an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy is a national imperative, a fundamental requirement to ensure that there is a future for Portugal as a sovereign and independent country with social justice and progress. A policy that will free the country from dependency and submission, that will recover for the country what belongs to it, that will hand back to workers and the people their rights, wages and income.

A policy that must be based on six fundamental points:

One, rejecting the Pact of Aggression and renegotiating the country’s debt, its amounts, interest rates, deadlines, terms and conditions for repayments, rejecting the illegitimate part of the debt and negotiating or unilaterally imposing a moratorium on payments with a reduction in the debt servicing burden to a level that is compatible with economic growth and an improvement in living conditions;

Two, defending and increasing national production, recovering for the State the financial sector and other companies and sectors of strategic value that are essential to support the economy, increasing public investment and promoting internal demand;

Three, valueing wages and pensions with an explicit commitment to replace stolen wages, income and rights, including social allowances and pensions;

Four, implementing a budgetary policy that will combat wastage, luxurious expenditure, based on a fiscal policy component that will increase the taxation of the dividends and profits of great capital and reduce the fiscal burden of workers and small and medium  companies, securing the necessary funds for an effective operation of the State and for public investment;

Five, a policy of defending and recovering public services, in particular the social functions of the State (viz. health, education and social security), by bolstering their human and material resources, as an essential element to fulfill the rights of the people and bring about the development of the country ;

Six, the adoption of a sovereign policy that will put national interests first in the relations with the European Union, diversify the country’s economic and financial relations and adopt measures that will prepare the country to depart from the Euro, whether as a result of a decision by the Portuguese people, or of the worsening of the crisis in the European Union.

5. Ths issue at stake is no longer whether the government and the illegitimate parliamentary majority that supports it will be defeated, but rather the need to intensify and broaden the struggle to speed up the process that will lead to its defeat and free the country from its disastrous policies.

The Central Committee of PCP underlines the decisive role that the struggle of workers and the people will play in the defence of their rights and in the resistance to the destruction of social advances and the confiscation of people’s income, in the inevitable defeat of the government and in the creation of conditions that will open the way to a patriotic and left-wing policy. The Central Committee appeals to an intensification and diversifications of the struggle of workers and of the people and stresses the importance of the national day of action that was called by CGTP-IN for 19 October, the «March for the April Revolution and against exploitation and impoverishment» which will take place in Setúbal/Setúbal,  Porto and in the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira. More than ever, the possibility to defeat the current offensive, force the demise of the government and have an early election called lies in the hands of workers, in their actions and struggle.

The Central Committee of PCP underlines the role played by mass organizations and movements and pays hommage to CGTP-IN, the great trade union confederation of Portuguese workers on the occasion of its 43rd anniversary  .

The Central Committee of PCP further emphasizes the need to broaden the convergence, activities and mobilization of social and political forces, of democrats and patriots who are not willing to accept national decadence and impoverishment and who aspire to a different policy that will secure a better future for Portugal and its people.

III

1. The Central Committee of PCP underlines and salutes the intense work carried out by its members and the Party’s organizations in bringing about a vast and demanding range of tasks over the last few months. In this, the Party lived up to its responsibilities in fostering and developing the struggle, in laying the ground for CDU’s intervention in the local elections that have just taken place, in preparing that major event which is Festa do Avante!, in promoting numerous initiatives in the context of Álvaro Cunhal’s centennial celebrations, in strengthening PCP’s structure and organization.

2. In the context of the implementation of the conclusions of  the XIXth Congress and the need to address the country’s present circumstances, the Central Committee of PCP considers the following tasks to be most important:activities aimed at extending, promoting and diversifying the struggle of workers and of the people; the strengthening of the unitary trade union movement and of mass organizations and movements; general activities aimed at strengthening the Party further, with a special focus on the work in companies and workplaces, making grassroot organizations more dynamic, assigning responsibilities to the cadres, recruitment activities targetting those who stand out in the various struggles as well as the thousands of individuals who were part of CDU’s election slates and currently have no party membership; carrying on with Álvaro Cunhal’s centennial celebrations, in particular the conference «Álvaro Cunhal, the communist project and today’s world», to be held in Lisbon on 26 and 27 October at Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa and the commemorative rally that will take place on 10 November in Campo Pequeno;

contributing  to the success of JCP’s 10th Congress, to be held on 5 and 6 April 2014 in Lisbon;

to strengthen the unitary work and to broaden the joint activities with thousands of democrats and patriots who aspire to a rupture with  right-wing policies;

to engage in the establishment of the newly-elected local authorities in line with the general principles observed by communist representatives so as to ensure the necessary conditions for the development of local authorities and to carry on with the honest and competent work that widely associated with CDU, regardless of whether the coalition holds a majority or minority position;

to promote a broad range of initiatives aimed at celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 25 of April Revolution and focusing on its values and achievements and their promotion as cornerstones of a Portugal that is progressive, developed and sovereign;

to launch the preparatory work with a view to the elections for the European Parliament, to be held on 25 May, emphasizing the work and activities undertaken by PCP and raising awareness for the need to strengthen its presence as a condition to consistently defend the interests of workers, of the people and of the country and to ensure Portugal’s sovereign development;

the development of internationalist solidarity, contributing to the strengthening of the anti-imperialist movement, the cooperation with left-wing forces and progressive organizations and the intensification of converging initaitives of communist and workers’ parties aimed at bolstering the international communist and revolutionary movement, a highlight of which will be the 15th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties .

3. PCP is aware of the fact that these are demanding times and it reaffirms its standing commitment to the struggle, alongside the workers and the people and inspired by their determination and confidence,   to  defeat the right wing-policies and to pave the way to a political, patriotic and left-wing alternative , towards an advanced democracy based on the values of the April Revolution and aimed at bringing about a society that is free of exploitation and oppression, socialism and communism .

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