I. Reasons for A Candidacy

My first words are of hope and confidence, fully aware of the difficulties that weigh on the daily lives of the Portuguese and the worries that a simple word — the future — brings to the mind of many of our fellow citizens. And so, I affirm that it is possible to live better in Portugal, that it is possible to change Portugal. As the poet wrote, Portugal is a "country that is possible". But for this to happen, it is necessary for it to be a different country — not a peripheral, subordinate and subservient sub-region, governed by the political staff that are the bureaucracy of big national and trans-national capital, but a "freer, fairer and more fraternal country", as is written in the preamble to the 1976 Constitution of the Republic. In this preamble which has survived, to this day, through several constitutional reviews, as well as in article 1 of the Constitution, Portugal is cast as a "sovereign Republic, based upon the dignity of human beings and on the will of the people, and committed to building a free, just and solidary society".

In this specific electoral battle, the candidacy decided by the Central Committee of the PCP, and which I personally accept, aims to both mark the difference — increase the understanding that it is necessary to break, from a democratic and left-wing perspective, with the right-wing policies that have led to the present state of affairs — and prove that there are alternatives.

This candidacy aims to help defeat the candidate that will be supported by the right-wing parties and, at the same time, participate in the obligatory debate which, although focusing on the role of the Presidency of the Republic, will necessarily and compulsorily have to be a debate on the state of our democracy and the future of Portugal.

II. The Presidency of The Republic and Democracy

In defining the organ of sovereignty that is the Presidency of the Republic, the Constitution presents it as the guarantor of national independence, of the unity of the State and the regular functioning of democratic institutions.

Thus, there is a clear bond between the Constitution’s legal-political platform and the presidential office. If the Constitution is the source of legitimacy for the President, he is, for his part, its institutional guarantor. It is the constitutional text that so determines: when taking office, the elected president assumes a pledge that is both political and ethical — he swears, on his word of honour, to faithfully carry out the duties in which he is invested and to defend, to follow and to implement the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.

We know that this has not always been the case and that the Constitution has been disfigured, but it continues to bear the mark of the great liberating project which was the April [1974] Revolution.

That is why it is also important to know what the different candidates think about the powers that the Constitution bestows on the Presidency of the Republic and the way in which they interpret democracy, as it is constitutionally enshrined. And it is also important that the electoral campaign be an opportunity to make a critical assessment of the current state of our democracy.

My candidacy could not abstain from taking part in this discussion and presenting, through its own voice, its political project, its invaluable difference and its alternative nature to the current reality of a continuously amputated, impoverished and disfigured democracy.

These are today recurring themes — the discredit of political activity and of politicians, who are deemed all equal, or the idea of a "partytocracy", which is deemed responsible for a crisis in the political system. Erasing recent history, never before as today have so many politicians come forward to criticise that which was, to a large extent, of their own making.

There is, in fact, a crisis. But not the one to which they refer and which would be solved by a so-called "Reform of the political system" that would, in reality, only worsen the true crisis. This is a crisis of the political representation system which has its causes and for which there are people who are responsible. The authenticity of political representation means plurality of possible options, freedom of choice and the trustworthiness of the vote. The represented citizen delegates in his representative his tiny parcel of political power. The representation thus means an act of delegation of power and an assumed pledge. But what we are faced with, is the fact that the ruling classes manipulate the will of those who are represented; there is a huge difference and gap between electoral promises and the policies that are carried out, as is the sad case of the present government, which follows on the tracks of the previous government and of those that came before. With the mystification of representation, it is the anti-democratic and anti-popular content of these policies, although put into practice by different actors, that explains the discomfort with the state of our democracy. And no electoral engineering can seriously solve this problem.

The same parties continue rotating in government, but this alternation does not really mean a political alternative or alternative policies.

There is a regression in the notion and practice of democracy. As if this were a democracy where "we can say whatever we want, and they can do whatever they want". First, they reduce democracy to political democracy. Actually, for some, democracy is a synonym for the "market economy", which is but an ashamed smoke-screen for "capitalism". But political democracy is not based merely on representation: it should include other dimensions, namely a necessary participative dimension.

This multiple reduction of democracy takes place in the context of the neo-liberal offensive which is a global offensive against economic, social and cultural rights won by the workers and the peoples, by the democratic and revolutionary forces during the 20th Century and which already constituted or could have opened the way to a civilizational platform. How can one understand or accept, in the name of modernity, a social regression of many decades? In its more recent phase, in Portugal, this offensive significantly began with a violent attack on the rights of the workers and their organisations through a Labour Code. This Code, which portrays a deep social regression, was followed by a law on political parties and their financing; laws that, imposing certain forms of organisation and functioning, unacceptably restrict the freedom of political association, the right of citizens to assemble in political parties, a right which to be effective has to imply sovereignty of decision-making regarding the forms of organisation and functioning of the party which they freely join, and which they can freely leave. The jost grievous of these changes are, however, an interference by the State in the life of political parties, which is all the more hypocritical in that it has been presented and adopted by those who are continuously demanding less State.

This attack on political democracy, which follows an expropriation of social rights, will — it has already been announced – continue with changes to the electoral system. What is known of these changes leads us to fear that they are not only meant to manipulate the vote as an expression of the electoral will, but that they even go further and aim to condition the very shaping of this will; restrict the scope of possible options and impose an artificial bipolarization, which would reduce the possibility of a political alternative and of alternative policies.

That the Labour Code is followed by an offensive at the level of political democracy shows the class logic of the offensive and, at the same time, reveals the deep historical connections that exist between workers’ rights, the idea that work is in itself a right and a seat of rights, the legal-political recognition of collective and solidarity rights, and political democracy itself. At the same time, the fact that the Socialist Party (PS) while in opposition formally challenged aspects of the referred Code, and now that it is in office, does not show any intention to revoke it, is significant, at least in that it displays a political inconsistency that weakens democracy. In this electoral battle, it must be made clear that those who drafted the Constitution, when faced with the dilemma and the opposition between economic interests and the interests and rights of the workers and the non-monopoly classes and strata, made the right choice: to place the Constitution on the side of those who have less and can less.

At the international level, the domination of U.S. imperialism and the hegemony within the EU by the richer countries and big trans-national capital is what allows us to understand this decrease and enfeeblement of democracy and the threats that loom on the horizon. The neo-liberal offensive engenders a growing resistance, to which the conservative forces reply with an attack against tarde unions, with the criminalisation of protest and the reduction of the scope of democratic choices. It is, thus, urgent to have a new political, economic, social and cultural course for Portugal as well as for the European Union.

III. National Sovereignty in Portugal and in the World

The successive waves of universalization of capitalism are a long term phenomenon that originated with its very formation, five centuries ago. We are presently in a new phase of the imperialist form of capitalism, which today globalises at an unforeseen scale.

Meanwhile, according to the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic (CPR), the President of the Republic "represents Portugal" and is, as I have already referred, the guarantor of national independence. On this important matter, the issue — and this is particularly and consistently placed before us by various political quarters — is whether the reference to national independence and sovereignty is not, as they say, a sign of our misunderstanding and inadaptation to the contemporary world. For some, the issue is whether imperialist globalisation and the processes of transnational capitalist integration have not rendered obsolete the very idea of national independence and sovereignty, in Europe and in the world. In other quarters, the issue is whether the national arena continues to be a significant field of struggle or if we should not be prioritizing the state of the world.

Our answer, based upon our own historical experience, which includes our analyses and those of others regarding the international reality, is clear and determines the way we define our patriotic and internationalist option, which is also based upon class reasons!

For us, national independence and sovereignty continue to be undeclinable values, a historical source that is relevant and affects our rooting among the masses and in the country. Besides this, they represent one of the aspects of our understanding of democracy. The abdication of national sovereignty means the acceptance of a process by which power becomes increasingly distant from the popular masses. On the other hand, the idea of transfer of sovereignty connects with the neo-liberal claim of "less State" and this means, on the one hand, the abandonment by the State of its social and cultural functions in the protection of rights, but the maintenance of its support to big capital and, on the other hand, a more repressive and securitary state, more authoritarianism, the imposition of the notion that it is necessary to exchange freedoms and rights for security and the attempts to criminalise social protest. Sovereignty is also an indispensable principle and basis to give a stronger and better response to the great and difficult challenges of the country’s development.

It is the capitalist and imperialist nature of the current globalisation that demands the abdication of sovereignty; social and national subjection; the growth of inequalities around the world and even within the more powerful countries. But as the growing resistance and struggle of the workers and the peoples confirm, alternatives of international progress and cooperation are necessary and possible. There is a form of thinking and practicing the growth of interdependence among countries and peoples that does require subjection, but rather, emancipation.

On the other hand, the national context has not exhausted the potential for struggle. It is in the national context of struggle that the workers and the peoples can know and directly face, in their workplace, the tacit pact among exploiters, whatever their nationality, the shameless union between capitalist globalisation, national submission and expropriation of conquered rights. Our recognition of the importance of the struggle on a national level does not imply an underestimation of the importance of internationalism and anti-imperialist solidarity. In our circumstances, the struggles and the successes that the workers and each people gain over exploitation and oppression can be their biggest contribution to the struggle on an international level.

We have said it before: today’s world, the world at the turn of the 20th Century into the 21st, is torn by a violent contradiction between, on one side, the huge social and human forces freed and accumulated by human work, by the technical and scientific revolution and by social struggles, and, on the other, the incapacity to solve old, or more recent, problems as is confirmed by the latest report from the United Nations Programme for Development: structural and global problems like hunger, public health, ignorance, extreme polarization between wealth and poverty, social exclusion, environmental catastrophes, private appropriation of Humankind’s common resources and wealth – like water – and the threats to the survival of the species. This is, as a matter of fact, the manifest expression of a persisting contradiction between the potentialities of human labour and the interests of Capital.

IV. A New Course — A Portugal with Future

The neo-liberal offensive that amplified and deepened the policy of capitalist recovery and the destruction of [the] April [Revolution’s gains], which has been embodied and implemented by successive governments for the past 29 years, has had disastrous consequences for the development of the country.

The chronic structural deficits have grown worse and the national problems more acute. The productive structure of the country is perilously weakened and the Portuguese economy is increasingly dependant and peripheral.

Portugal loses ground within the European context, with an ever greater gap in terms of its level of development.

The parasitic character of big economic and financial capital has deepened, together with the submission of the whole economic and productive structure to its predatory logic, stimulated by a disastrous process of privatisations.

Social injustice and inequality have increased, exploitation has worsened. On one side, there is a constant growth in the profits of economic and financial groups, on the other, less purchasing power for the workers and the population in general, situations of poverty and even hunger, with unemployment already affecting half a million Portuguese [people].

Public services and fundamental functions of the State are disarticulated and subordinated to the logic of privatisation, of profit, of a devastating economicism.

Foreign policy is determined by the submission to the diktats of imperialism, with the participation in the aggression and occupation of other countries, while the Armed Forces, diverted from their constitutional mission of guaranteeing national defence and sovereignty, are progressively weakened and left without support.

Together with the lack of stimuli for cultural creation and fruition, there are phenomena of alienation and acculturation, while on the ethical level, corruption, cronyism, promiscuity between public and private interests have reached a worrying scale.

The right-wing neo-liberal policies are tieing the country to an infernal cycle of stagnation and recession with severe social consequences.

Portugal cannot follow this path for long. Breaking with these policies has become a national imperative.
The difficulties of the country do not lie with the democratic regime and the Constitution of the Republic, nor does the country need an autocratic president to overcome the crisis, as some publicly proclaim and as others defend with the secret hope of using the Presidency of the Republic as an instrument to subvert the regime.

It is the policies anchored to the dogmas of today’s capitalism and on subservience to the European Union’s process of asymmetric integration that have to change and conform to the interests and aspirations of the Portuguese [people].

My candidacy and its participation in the electoral debate are part and parcel of this imperious struggle demanding a new national policy, and alternative policy of the left which, assuming the legacy of the April Revolution, aspires to build in Portugal a democracy that is simultaneously political, economic, social and cultural.

We are aware that it is not up to the President of the Republic to exercise government — it is up to the government to conduct the policy of the country — but the Constitution gives him vast powers and attributions and a role that enables him to affirm the will of the State and of the Portuguese people, namely by accompanying the activity of the government.

In this context, my candidacy believes that the President of the Republic, in view of the situation of the country, should act to ensure, as the first great aim of national policy, economic growth and sustained development, geared to fulfilling the needs of all, particularly those who live off their salaries, pensions and retirement pay.

The materialisation of this aim demands a decisive defence of national production and employment, the development and modernization of our productive capacities, basic support to guarantee the present and the future of the country and a better life for the Portuguese people.

A new policy that promotes growth and development demands a radically different attitude and adequate policies to valorise national labour, with an effective distribution of the national income and a strong bet on its qualification.

It demands asserting the right to work and work with rights, as an essential democratic axis; social rights as a fundamental pillar of a State that claims to be modern and advanced, as well as social justice and the fight against social exclusion, as inalienable rights of a democratic and solidary society.

But, in the role of accompanying government activity, my candidacy believes that it is up to the President of the Republic to defend and support initiatives in other areas that are essential for the country.

Defending and extending the democratic regime by: re-establishing the freedom of political organisation; an electoral system which takes into account the will of the Portuguese people; the autonomy of local government and criteria for real popular representation; the defence and effective application of trade union rights and workers’ rights in general, guaranteeing freedom of organisation and action in the workplace; the materialisation of a democratic reform of the State, combating disarticulation, ensuring its modernization, valorising public administration and creating administrative regions.

In fighting corruption and nepotism, a more efficient justice system, which may defend rights and guarantees, and a better policy of domestic security, safeguarding the rights of citizens.
In an action that reduces regional asymmetries; ensures a policy of social well-being and improves the environment and quality of life, as goals in themselves and as factors of development.

In the promotion of education, science and culture, ensuring a higher level of qualifications and training of the Portuguese people and the full and dynamic use of the potential of science and technology, the skills of technical and scientific cadres, at the service of a project of national development.

In the defence of women’s rights, their participation on an equal footing, in support of motherhood and fatherhood, in the creation of conditions to eliminate the scourge of clandestine abortion, in the struggle against discrimination.

In stimulating young people’s participation, their present and future fulfilment, their contribution to development.

In a National Defence and Armed Forces policy that follows a national blueprint and with the national resources to pursue it, with the aim of ensuring a strategy based upon the defence of national interests, embodying that Portugal has its own interests to defend. In a project concerned with developing a national consciousness regarding new problems that National Defence faces and a strategic vision for the Armed Forces, so that they can fulfil their constitutional missions.

In the struggle for a Portugal open to the world, increasing our relations with the countries that have Portuguese as an official language, with Spain and Latin America, for a new course in European integration, based upon sovereign and equal rights among countries and a new world order based on environmental balance, on peace and cooperation among the peoples.

Inspired by that which is jost advanced in the history of our country, from the foundation of the nationality to the 1383/1385 Revolution, the progress of navigations and new sea routes to the re-establishment of independence [in 1640], from 1820 to the proclamation of the Republic [in 1910], the struggle of the workers movement and the democratic forces to the April [1974] Revolution. Based upon our people’s jost progressive achievements in aljost nine centuries of history, this candidacy appears, in the difficult national situation that we face, to fight against resignation and fatalism, convincingly asserting that Portugal is not doomed to backwardness and underdevelopment.

When different political sectors try to mingle the international and European framework with the abdication of national interests, this candidacy presents itself, acting for a fairer society and world, to assume that it does not give up on Portugal, that Portugal can have a future, to fight for a future with more development and more social justice.

When there are those who mix up Portugal with the interests and the profits of economic and financial groups, this candidacy presents itself to reaffirm a pledge with the workers, the Portuguese people, the youth, the elderly, women, the small and medium entrepreneurs, the intellectual and technical cadres, the unemployed, the real-life Portuguese people who are, and who make up, Portugal.

And so, I am addressing the Portuguese people, the communists and all those who trust us, the men, women and youth of different party options and those who do not have them. I send you a word of encouragement and an appeal for your support. A support that is not just the support for a person but for a collective project, the demand for a break with the course of the country’s fall, a path of hope.

In the middle of the first decade of the 21st Century, here we are, acting for the present and the future of our country, sowing more seeds in Portuguese soil. Seeds like those that that germinated in April and will germinate tomorrow in some Spring month, which will create a better Portugal for the Portuguese of today and the coming generations.

There is a right to hope. And there is a hope that cannot lay waiting, but becomes action, work and struggle. Organise to struggle, resist to grow, unite to win, transform Portugal into a freer, fairer and more fraternal country.