The Central Committee of the PCP, meeting on 11 October 2005, analyzed the result of the local government election and underlined the important success of the CDU materialized in an increase in the number of votes, office-bearers, borough councils and town councils in which presidencies were won. It evaluated the struggle and protest actions that have been taking place, in several sectors, against the government’s policy, actions that are, in themselves, inseparable from the negative result obtained by the PS (Socialist Party) in the last Sunday’s election; it also discussed other aspects of the social and political situation, namely those connected with the government’s foreseeable options for the 2006 State Budget and their negative consequences in the living conditions and in the country’s economic development.
The CC meeting defined the main guidelines to respond to and counter those options. The PCP’s Central Committee equally assessed the development and assertion of its candidacy to the Presidential election in a context in which it underlined the Party’s irreplaceable role in the battle to assert a new path for the country and to defeat the right-wing, its candidates and its projects. Also discussed and defined were the main current policy lines and tasks, notably the campaigns against the rise in the age of retirement and the strengthening of Party organisation.
I. Local Government Election — An important and significant victory of the CDU
1. The result obtained by the CDU in the 9 October local government election was an important victory, confirming and strengthening the CDU as a strong national force in local government, with an expressive presence in local authorities across the country and with increased responsibility in the running of many towns and boroughs.
Such a result is even more significant since it was obtained in a context of the declared underrating in the media, use of opinion polls that favoured the opponent candidates, of ideological pressure and clear disproportion in the campaign resources.
The Central Committee of the PCP underlines the importance of the CDU progress, actually the only political force that increased the number of Town Councils, reaching 650 thousand votes for the borough assemblies and an electoral percentage of 11.0%, 11.7% and 12% respectively for Town Councils, Town Assemblies and Borough Assemblies. A progress translated into a larger number of votes and offices held (135 more out of a total of 3498) and an increase in the number of majorities in Town Councils — from 28 to 32 — and also significant gains of other positions, namely new majorities in borough assemblies (15 new majorities, thus moving up to 247), the election of councillors in towns where we didn’t have any (worth underlining is the election, for the first time, of one councillor in Funchal and two in Horta, in the Autonomous Island Regions of Madeira and Azores, respectively) and newly elected councillors in boroughs and towns.
The victories in municipalities like Barreiro, Marinha Grande, Sesimbra, Alcochete, Vidigueira and Barrancos, re-conquering majorities lost in previous elections and the gaining of Peniche, for the first time, are of particular importance.
The fact that the CDU re-conquered those municipalities is particularly significant, not just for the possibility of repeating in those municipalities the CDU work and results but also for the perspectives now opened up for further progress at the next local government election.
This evaluation does not diminish the significance of losses in Estremoz, Alcácer do Sal and Redondo, nor of its consequences for the respective population.
Testifying this progress, one of this election’s main features is the fact that the CDU conquered the strong position of being the political force that won more Town Councils in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area.
Also worth noticing is the result achieved in Oporto (where the presence of the CDU and its elected representatives was confirmed) and in Lisbon where the CDU had a significant vote — electing 2 Town Councillors and wining majorities in 8 boroughs — with its influence and local government project, as a political force that in an alternative to the right-wing, was confirmed.
The result obtained by the CDU is the proof and testimony of its project value, of the work carried out as well as of the work done by hundreds of the Coalition’s elected representatives, also showing the growing support and trust from the Portuguese workers and people.
2. The PCP underlines that this election and its result are a clear sign of warning to the PS and to its government’s policies, a clear sign of disagreement with the anti-popular measures and policies that they have pursued and a factor of encouragement for the struggles of the Portuguese workers and people.
The attempts of the PS to try and mitigate its losses and praise its result cannot hide the reality. In fact the PS was not just defeated in the main electoral contests that it had chosen as its main targets (namely municipalities like Lisbon, Oporto or Sintra) but was also defeated in municipalities like Santarém or Aveiro. The attempt to try and limit comparisons to this result and its result in 2001 (recalling that this was one of the lowest results of the PS in local government elections) — ignoring the fact that only recently last February, it had obtained more than 45% of the vote — does not hide, meanwhile, that even in the framework of that comparison, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the PS presents itself, only seven months after the coming into office of the Sócrates government, as worn out as it was six years after the government led by Guterres.
The ostensive statements by their main party leaders, saying that nothing will make them change the course and contents of their policies, represents an intolerable sign of arrogance that will end up by leading the government and its right-wing policy to defeat.
3. The result obtained by the PSD ("Social-Democratic Party") and notably the victory in a larger number of Town Councils while holding majorities in municipalities like Lisbon and Oporto, does not however authorise the unfounded idea of significant progress made by this party in the 9 October election. In fact, not only did they see the number of their Town Councils be reduced, but also the number of votes and electoral expression of the PSD and its coalitions (counting or not the CDS-PP Party) is smaller when compared with that of 2001.
4. The BE (Left Block), obtains a result clearly below their announced expectation and remains, despite some progress in offices gained in borough and municipal assemblies, as an inexpressive political force in our local authorities. With only 2.95% of the vote for the Town Councils, and only 7 councillors elected in only 4 Town Councils, in the only municipality held by this Party (Salvaterra de Magos) they lost half of the borough assemblies previously held (from 6 to 3).
In the framework of a campaign characterised by undisguiseable anti-communism (shown in unacceptable insinuations around CDU’s honesty and exemption in local authorities) and by the clear favours it got from some of the press (the sympathy and quantity of the news or the shameless manipulation of opinion polls in its favour) it is particularly significant that even in the more urban areas, the BE falls very short of the vote obtained in the recent parliamentary election. The defeat of its objectives in Oporto, where the BE used real slander and lack of principles in its campaign against the CDU, challenging our responsibility in this and other municipalities — always coinciding with the PS and PSD conceptions of local government, reducing it to absolute power in case of victory or to absolute obstruction when defeated — is significant in itself.
5. Foreign to meek visions or conceptions of absolute power, the PCP’s Central Committee reasserts the fairness of its constructive poise and its readiness to take up responsibilities in local authorities and to work in favour of the population’s interests.
The PCP’s Central Committee salutes the thousands of candidates, activists and militants of the PCP, of the JCP (Portuguese Communist Youth) of the PEV (Green’s Ecologist Party) of the ID (Democratic Intervention) and of independents who, with their generous dedication, with their irreplaceable intervention, contributed to assert our positions, candidacies and project in the country’s municipalities and boroughs.
The campaign developed by the CDU week after week is, besides the results obtained, a priceless conquest for the assertion of a political force that identifies with the workers and people’s interests, feeling and living their concerns, sharing their dreams of a better and more dignified life.
The result obtained by the CDU and particularly the flow of support to its proposals and intervention are a solid element of trust and encouragement for the future. A solid element of confidence for the work to be developed by the thousands of CDU representatives now elected, under all circumstances, in the country’s local authorities. A solid factor of encouragement for our everyday struggle to attain a new policy, to protect the workers and people’s interests and for a sovereign Portugal with more justice.
II. Developing the Struggle — Responding to the national problems
and the government’s attack
1. The country and the Portuguese workers and people are confronted with a very difficult situation. The country’s economic situation remains stagnant, with many recessive and strangling factors, in a very unfavourable external framework (forecast of rising oil prices, possible increase of the Eurozone exchange rates, stagnation of our principal foreign markets) and an internal context with growing unemployment problems, closure and relocation of factories, endebtment of families and enterprises, serious worsening of the trade balance, together with forest fires and a prolonged drought.
2. Seven months of a PS government backed by an absolute majority mean the worsening of the national problems, the continuation and intensification of the right-wing policy. Defrauding the expectations of so many Portuguese who put their trust in the PS government, it deepened a class policy paying lip service to the economic and financial groups: it increased VAT and other taxes; it uses the Labour Code in which the draft review maintains the threat to put an end to Collective Agreements and to the possibility of establishing working conditions well below the legal minimum, thus threatening the workers rights; it refused to raise the national statutory minimum salary and imposed a net loss in the purchasing power; it increased people’s expenditure with medicines; it attacked the civil servants by threatening their right to retirement, career development, purchasing power and their specific health care systems in some areas.
3. The government is preparing to intensify this policy. Their economic decisions and what is already known of the State Budget for 2006, confirm that the PS government is insisting on solutions and choices that, guided by hard economic neo-liberalism, following along the same path of previous governments, are not just incapable of facing the serious economic and social context and the country’s structural problems, but will also inevitably make them worse. A State Budget increasingly determined by the Growth and Stability Pact criteria, with blind cuts in public expenditure, restrictive and penalising the state workers, social policies (health, education, social security), public investment and the conditions to deliver public services. Restructuring (once again) the energy sector by privatising and liberalising public enterprises and markets, forced by the collection of financial revenues for the public debt and jeopardising the national interests and even our national sovereignty. Accepting as accomplices and with reverence the European Union trade agreements and EU policy reforms that are, once again, hitting the country’s productive fabric, particularly textile and agriculture.
Policies that are the opposite of those "friendly" with the stock exchange and financial speculation announced by the Finance Minister: privatisations, new tax benefits, "that may stimulate the stock exchange", "review of the tax system applicable to investment funds", etc.
It is not a good omen for our national economy, when we have a "dinner" prepared by the Prime-Minister with a pressure group created by 120 national and foreign economic groups, attended by the Amorim, Espírito Santo and Mello families, who handed over to the Economic Minister a large set of demands, including privatisations and liberalisations, flexibilisation of the labour market, 150000 job losses in the civil service.
That initiative falls in convergence with many other negative proposals announced by the PS government. It is the case with the continuation of the disastrous process of privatisations, as was announced for GALP (Petrol Company), EDP (Electricity Company) REN (National Electrical Network), the water sector and connected appliances. The increase to 68 years or more in the age of retirement of all workers, the change in the formula to calculate pensions in order to reduce them, raising house rents and insisting on a pay policy that lowers the purchasing power.
This policy has, in its essence, deserved the support of the PSD and CDS-PP, of the economic and financial groups and media commentators at their service, trying to set the conditions to intensify the general loss of rights and lower living standards for the Portuguese workers and people.
4. As the PCP has insistently and repeatedly declared, only by breaking away from this policy, will a path be opened to overcome the structural deficits and the difficult conjuncture our country lives in. We need a policy that valorises work and creates jobs, enhancing economic growth, the protection of the productive sectors and a strong public sector in strategic areas, support to micro, small and medium enterprises, a budgetary policy freed from the SGP (Stability and Growth Pact) constraints, fighting tax fraud and evasion as well as the bad spending and waste of public funds, increasing state investment that is necessary for the country’s development.
5. The PCP’s Central Committee highlights the significance of the very strong wave of protests from the jost varied social sectors and considers that the development of the struggle of the masses is the jost solid and efficient way of contributing to protect the workers interests and rights as well as those of other popular strata also hit, to make the government retreat in the negative measures adopted and to assert the necessity and urgency of a new policy.
III. Presidential Election — A Strong Dynamic of the Jerónimo de Sousa Candidacy
1. In a moment in which the picture of presidential candidates is not yet complete, the developments taking place in the political and social situation confirm the rightness of the decision made by the Central Committee last August, of launching the Candidacy of Jerónimo de Sousa, in accordance with the principles and objectives underlying the decision.
2. The operation to whitewash and promote Cavaco Silva, to try and favour the strategy of launching and implementing his candidacy, in a situation in which Cavaco is already campaigning even without announcing that he is a candidate, should be seen with concern and requires a firm combat and exposure.
In this context, Jerónimo de Sousa’s Candidacy is the candidacy of all of those who aspire to a democratic and left-wing breaking away from right-wing policies; a candidacy of all those who, having a real concern with the impoverishment of the democratic regime, wish for its revigoration in the framework of the April values; of all those who oppose the systematic attacks directed at the workers rights; of all those who strive for a policy of peace and co-operation and who believe that another path is required for Portugal.
3. The CC calls on all the Party to mobilise in order to implement all tasks connected with the Presidential election, as well as to intensify the contact and information actions, considering that each support secured is the best contribution to a strong vote in Jerónimo de Sousa’s Candidacy, a necessary condition to beat the right-wing candidacy, to assert an alternative project, for a Portugal with a future.
IV. A Stronger PCP
1. The CC stresses that in the present situation – marked by the demand to intervene in the country’s situation, the offensive on the part of the government and of the ruling classes and the important Presidential election battle – the strengthening of the Party is a priority issue. The materialisation of the guidelines for the strengthening of the Party’s organisation and intervention decided by the 17th Congress are confirmed as a decisive element for the PCP to play its role in the Portuguese society. The strengthening of the Party is a necessity, but more than that, it is, in the present situation, a real possibility, testified by the readiness, militant participation, attraction and broadening of the Party’s current prestige and influence.
2. The CC greets the new members who joined the Party over the last few months and underlines the importance and attention that should be given to the recruitment into the Party of the many candidates without Party affiliation, namely youth and women, who were part of the CDU election lists, by integrating them and giving them responsibility, creating and strengthening Party structures and bodies.
3. The CC underlines the urgency for the Party organisations and militants to organise plans and actions to adopt measures connected with the guideline on the global strengthening of the Party organisation, integrated measures to strengthen the Party organisation and intervention, namely to finalise the contacts being made with the Party members, recruiting and integrating militants, giving responsibility to the cadres, creating and strengthening structures, acting and organising in the enterprises and workplaces, strengthening the grass root organisations.
Following a set of important events for the Party assertion — 17th Congress, result of the 20 February Parliamentary election, tribute paid to Comrade Álvaro Cunhal, success of the 29th Avante Festival and success of the local government election — the CC appeals to the dynamising of the Party initiative and intervention around the national issues, highlighting the national campaign against a higher retirement age, the intervention to protect the interests and yearnings of the workers and other popular layers, the holding of meetings and assemblies and the rally that will take place in Lisbon on October 21st under the motto "Going Forward and Growing for a Portugal with a Future".
International Dimension of A Victory
CDU’s victory in the local government elections, on 9th October in Portugal, has an international dimension that deserves to be stressed. Firstly, because it has to do with the advance of a progressive force in a highly unfavourable international context. In electoral terms limited but politically highly significant. Paraphrasing Lenin, each concrete step in the right direction is worth more than a thousand speeches. The possibility of containing and defeating the violent global offensive of imperialism goes through big and small struggles and partial victories at the level of each country, not through speculative "global alternatives", generally born out of verbalism and impotence. It is our duty to valorise them.
Secondly, by what such a victory represents in the context of an acute ideological struggle where classic anti-communism converges with the theses on a "re-foundation of the left", which considers outdated Leninist type parties and the national dimension of the struggle. In truth, it is another nail in the coffin of the "irreversible decline" of the communist parties, confirming the possibility to resist and grow with the unequivocal affirmation of the communist project. Because this is what has characterised the action of the PCP, both in its own intervention and that which it carries out in the framework of its alliance with the Green Ecological Party and many thousands of independent people without any party, in CDU. Contrary to other situations, the electoral progresses achieved by the Portuguese communists were not at the cost of electioneering, disguising or abdicating its own programme, yielding to immediacy and sweet songs of the conjuncture. In view of the sophisticated campaign on the "death of communism" it is important to stress what all this means, not to place ourselves above our height or teach lessons to anyone, but to give more strength and more confidence to the revolutionary communist current in the field of the left-wing forces.
History shows that anti-Marxist opportunism has objective roots within capitalism’s own development, is always ready to spring again under new forms, always manifests as an international trend that is necessary to combat with persistence. This is particularly decisive at the present moment when socialism’s defeats continue to be exploited to delay the creation of the necessary subjective conditions for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. Without this combat it will not
be possible to find a progressive outcome to the crisis of capitalism and a solution for the dramatic problems of Humanity.
Social-democracy, particularly rooted in Europe, has been a serious hurdle to the development of the revolutionary conscience of the working masses but its discredit grows visibly. Its scandalous surrender to neo-liberal policies threatens to exhaust its ability to deceive the workers and execute, like Schröder in Germany or Socrates in Portugal, right-wing policies that even the right-wing could not execute for lack of social and political support. Divergences, differentiations and divisions in the social-democratic area (and in the collaborationist trade unionism associated with it) are inevitable and they
tend to expand the anti neo-liberal and anti capitalist camp. This, however, demands, not a dilution of the communists in the name of reheated scenarios of the "left" and an appendicular "participation in the power", but a persistent policy of convergence and unity in action, turned to the masses, against the exploitative and aggressive policy of big capital, involving the independent affirmation of the communist project. Also on this matter the local government elections in Portugal hold lessons that should be retained.
When in its 15.10.05 edition Expresso [a Portuguese weekly newspaper] was forced to acknowledge that the "PCP gained an important victory" and added that this was achieved in a "mere logic of resistance to the times", it takes its wishes for reality. The PCP is there to fight, resist, grow and win. Just like the international communist movement. Whether the enemies and adversaries want it or not.