Statement PCP Central Committee

Communiqué of PCP's Central Committee in 21 of November of 1999

I
New Government, old policy

1. The Central Committee of the PCP stresses that the presentation and debate on the Government's Programme formed by the Socialist Party (PS) following the legislative elections, fully confirmed its intent of repeating the main guidelines of the previous government, even proposing to deepen some of its more negative aspects.

The Government's Programme thus confirms that the PS clearly chose to ignore the reasons for the disenchantment and frustration that were at the root of the relative weaking of its vote among the leftist voters, who decisively contributed to its failure in obtaining an absolute majority.

2. In this framework, among many other programmatic guidelines, the following should be pointed out for their special seriousness, importance and consequences:

. a clear intention of pursuing a policy of predominant and privileged support of the economic groups and complicity with the associations of the great employers, namely under the pretext of giving priority to competition and internationalisation of the companies, assuring that the wages should grow less than the productivity gains and thus continuing the clamorous inequality in the distribution of the national wealth;
. the interest in accelerating the privatisations process, of companies with state capital as well as those concerning, expressly, services of Public Administration, through “subcontracting, concession or privatisation”;
. the intention of pursuing the change in labour laws, namely the law on collective bargaining and the law on holidays, the conditioning of the exercise of the right to strike by changing the concept of the guarantee of minimum services during a strike, the resumption of corporative conceptions in the negotiation of collective bargaining and the instrumentalisation of social contract;
. the significative absence of any commitment in the necessary and urgent reform of the taxes on income with the aim of reducing the fiscal burden on the income of the employees, of ending the scandal of fiscal benefits on the income and applications of capital, of forcing the payment of taxes, in accordance with their contributive capacity, by those who presently cheat and evade taxes, noting that the only piece of fiscal reform laid out in the Government Programme – the reform of the taxes on wealth – was abandoned by the Government during the parliamentary debate;
. the insistence, under the cover of an alleged “ reform of the political system”, on substantially changing the electoral system for the Assembly of the Republic (Parliament) , with the undisguised purpose of, through the creation of “uninominal constituency of candidacy”, forcing a greater concentration of votes on PS and PSD; of also changing the electoral law for local government, namely with the aim of ending the direct election of Municipal Councils and the pluralist representation in Municipal executive bodies;
. the insistence on a course of privatising and reducing the rights of social security by reducing the public system (by setting a ceiling) and “opening the way for the development of the 2nd. and 3d. pillars of social security” (private); of the regressiveness, taking into account the income, in the calculation of the value of the retirement pensions (favouring contributive evasion and the transfer of contributions from the public to the private system), and the reduction of the contributive taxes without compensating the social security budget for the resources thus subtracted;
. the maintenance of the present guidelines concerning the European Union, a federalising project, based on neo-liberal policies, and the logic of a political-military block – made clear in the proposal of transforming the Western European Union (WEO) in (European army) the armed hand of the European Union, together with a foreign policy submitted to NATO and the USA - as seen in the proposal of the change in the strategic concept of national defence in order to “adapt” it to the new concept of that organisation, or entirely left, in essential issues to the country, in the hands of the European Commission – as is the case of the negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO);
. the clear renunciation and incapability of defining and promoting a policy capable of efficiently confronting with the essential problems of Portuguese society, from those dealing with the economy and the productive structure (in the last four years of PS Government the trade imbalance rose to a billion contos) to those of serious injustice and social inequalities, as well as regional asymmetries and the inland desertification.

3. Together with the obvious option of continuing the policy of the right, the PS also bets – as is specially clear in the structure and personal composition of the Government, in the type of appointments for Civil Governors, in the announced, but meanwhile “frozen”, governmental appointment of “High Commissioners” for the regions – in an even greater and more sophisticated instrumentalisation of the State apparatus and public offices at the service of the electoral interests of the party in Government and the strengthening and growth of a powerful system of clienteles, dependencies and social conditionings.

4. The Central Committee of the PCP admits that, by virtue of the votes in the emigration constituencies, PS's gaining of half the number of deputies, may give the Government more room for manoeuvring and impunity in Parliament.

But underlines that this fact does not invalidate its previous appreciation that, following the results of 10th. October, more favourable general political conditions are foreseeable , namely through social movements and struggle, to press and condition the Government, from the left, to stop and defeat its offensives and to reach the satisfaction of important worker's claims and the adoption of positive measures in answer to the heartfelt popular aspirations.

5. Confirming the political positioning of the PCP as the left-wing opposition to the PS Government, the Central Committee reaffirms that the PCP will carry out a firm and consequent struggle against the announced continuation of the fundamental lines of the right-wing policy of the PS Government.

And, reaffirming, the responsibilities of the PCP as an essential and determining force of the struggle for an effective turn to the left in national policy, the Central Committee stresses that the PCP will firmly hold battle to urge securing advances and progress in this direction.

The PCP will endeavour to fully honour the strengthened confidence it received from the voters and it has already shown, as witnessed by the presentation on the very first day of parliamentary activity, of a set of projects of important social value (increase in pensions and retirement pay, increase of minimum wage, restoring of the retirement age of women to 62 years, decrease of 10% in electricity rates).

Debating the main guidelines of PCP's activity in the next year, The Central Committee examined in detail those concerning the political initiative of the Party, its contribution to the development of the social struggle, its action in local government and its strengthening at organisation and intervention levels.

II
Audaciously taking the initiative

1. Benefiting from the more favourable objective conditions for the communists to intervene in all fields of national life, the Central Committee underlines the importance for the Party to take audaciously the initiative in relation to a set of great social and political causes; to associate an intense and diversified political and claiming masses' work, with a prompt intervention in the institutions and a dynamic attitude in the public presentation of the ideas and proposals of the PCP; to interconnect the Party's attachment with society in all fields, chiefly among the workers and the youth, with the organisational and intervening strengthening of the Party.

2. In the field of political and social initiative, and whilst keeping in mind the need to respond to concrete and immediate problems, some great causes and lines of intervention, participation and struggle may be underlined:

. the main subjects, which will be at the forefront during the Portuguese presidency of the European Union (January to June 2000), namely jobs issues (Extraordinary Summit on 23rd. and 24th. March), the problems of agriculture and fisheries, the reform of the institutions, the co-operation with the developing countries;
. important global problems and campaigns in progress, namely the World Trade Organisation conference (“ The Millennium Round”), defence of the application of the Tobin Tax; Women's World March Against Poverty; the implementation of women's right to equality;
. environmental issues; the fight against drug abuse; peace, disarmament and international solidarity ;
. the struggle against changes in electoral laws which decrease or change the value of the principle of proportional representation, and the defence of an improvement of democratic life, of the quality and real possibilities of the citizens' participation;
. the defence and promotion of jobs and employment with rights;
. growth of real wages and valorisation of the minimum wage; struggle against temporary jobs and discrimination affecting the working women, promotion of more and better jobs, progressive reduction of the working week hours to 35 hours, without reduction of pay;
. the defence of a reform of the fiscal system, guided by principles of justice in sharing the fiscal burden, lessening that on the labour income, progressiveness of the fiscal system as well as its efficacy and efficiency;
. the problems accumulated in the Health area and the urgent undertaking of a democratic reform of the National Health Service, which will hinder its debasement and the development of privatising processes, and finally implement the right of all Portuguese people to access public services of quality;
. the struggle against the policy of reduction and partial privatisation of the Social Security, the defence of better social allowances and the adoption of measures to strengthen and improve the public system;
. the implementation of a profound reform of the justice system aiming, namely, at democratising citizens' access and assure more speed without hampering their rights and guarantees;
. the defence and improvement of public services and the struggle against privatisations;
. the struggle against processes of privatising nature under way in the educational area and the development of a wide movement in defence of public education of quality;
. the promotion of a democratic reform of the State, namely aiming at deepening representative and participative democracy, the strengthening of local government and the development of the process of administrative decentralisation.

III
To Stimulate the development of masses struggle

1. The present situation, the opening perspectives, need a strong and wide answer and initiative from the Party, the growth ofmass struggle and the development of social movements.

2. Just as in the recent past, the development of the social struggle, in particular that of the workers, will constitute a determining factor to hinder that be carried out a policy guided to serve big capital's interests , and to defend and achieve rights and better living and working conditions.

Once the aspects of political initiative are defined - like the struggle against temporary work and the defence of employment with rights or the valorisation of wages and pensions, advancing the project of a phased reduction of the working week to 35 hours - associating them with the struggle against privatisations, the defence of the State's social duties of the and the defence of bonds in public employment. The defence and improvement of the Social Security and persisting on the change of the fiscal system in order to alleviate the burden on the workers, will open new perspectives for the development of social struggle.

Starting with the real problems of sectors of workers and companies, articulating the defence of labour rights with the defence of social and environmental interests and the welfare of the populations, conditions will created for the growth and convergence of struggles.

In this scope, assumes great importance and becomes indispensable the political initiative of the Party, in order to mobilise new efforts and
engagements to congregate and materialise the aspirations of the workers and the peoples.

3. In the framework of the communists' intervention in developing social movements, the Central Committee stresses the importance of the strengthening of the Unitary Trade Union Movement, united around CGTP-IN. In a situation of a balance of forces unfavourable to the workers and their organisations and facing a wide and diversified attack against the stablished rights that have been achieved by generations of workers, the unitary trade union movement carried out an irreplaceable role in the defence of jobs with rights, culminating a phase of struggle with wide amplitude and diversity around the effective reduction of the working hours, of important pillars of labour rights, threatened by the legislative proposals of the Government, in the claiming action for the valorisation of the wages and against dismissals and temporary work, reacting in an organised way to the restructuring of companies and sectors through the union restructuring, the constitution of new workers' committees, the election of shop stewards, enlisting new trade unions and increasing union enrolment. CGTP-IN reinforced its affirmation as the great trade union confederation of the Portuguese workers.

The Party's members, together with thousands of independent, catholic and socialist activists and trade union leaders, gave and will give a decisive contribution to the strengthening, the growth of the prestige and influence of CGTP-IN in the workplace, in the companies and in the Portuguese society.

The Central Committee exhorts all Party members who work and fight in the trade union movement to engage themselves in the preparation and successful realisation of the IX Congress of CGTP-IN, in reaffirming its unitary, democratic, autonomous, masses and class nature, fulfilling its great objective of valorising labour and dignifying the workers.

IV
To deepen the action in Local Government – To Dinamize CDU

1. The significant changes in the legal framework of the activity, financing and competency of the local governments and PS's blatant attitude of using the state apparatus, to condition and instrumentalize local policies in favour of party strategies, demand a firmer intervention of the Party's organisations on local questions and from PCP's and CDU's elected officials in their action in local government.

The local activity of the Party's organisations, which naturally includes local government work, places a greater demand on the contents and on the political initiative, able to increase the intervention and the struggle in defence of the popular interests and in claiming the necessary public investments, and by this action restrict government's scting in the strategy of the progressive freeing of State responsibility and to grow the conscience of the populations as to their rights in face of the Power, as it is indispensable for a freer and more responsible political and electoral judgement and for the satisfaction of their legitimate interests.

2. At a time when half of the present local government mandate is completed, it is necessary to carry out an evaluation on the work accomplished and the main insufficiencies found, defining and adopting the actions and the measures which, in accordance with the local needs and priorities, project a new capacity of accomplishment to carry out the programmes and activity plans which we presented to the populations.

Of equal importance is the need to study the necessary measures for an adequate disclosure and valorisation of the work carried out, to strengthen our action in situations of minority (a critical evaluation of the other force's action and the affirmation of our alternative project), the growth of the populations involvement in identifying the main problems and their solution.

3. Rendering account of the work accomplished and the debate on the projects and proposals for the immediate future constitute a privileged time for the CDU's necessary affirmation as a large area of democratic participation and intervention in local policies, confirming CDU as a space of discussion and action capable of attracting new wills, to pursue in local government a highly recognised activity in raising the living conditions of the populations and in the local and regional development.

V
To reinforce the Party's organisation and intervention

1. The dynamization of the intervention and the reinforcement of the organisation of the Party are decisive factors the implementation of which assumes particular importance in the forthcoming times.

The Central Committee considers it necessary to prepare a plan of political and party initiatives in the next year, which should try to ensure an active and diversified political intervention of the Party in different areas of national life, answer pressing problems of the country, the workers and the people, spread the Party's policy, strengthening its bond with the masses.

The plan of political and party initiatives, should also take into account next year's great political tasks with the Party's 16th Congress on the horizon, the preparation of which should be carried out in the framework of the dynamization and organic strengthening of the Party and of an active political intervention.

In this scope, we can already point out the initiatives of the Party's 79th. Anniversary, the commemorations of 8th. March, 25th. April and 1st. May, and, at the beginning of September, the “Avante!” Festival.

Also to be stressed is the Joy Festival, an important initiative that once again will place in Braga.

The preparation of the elections for the Regional Legislative Assemblies of the Azores and of Madeira (to be held next October) also deserves the Party's careful attention.

The electoral strengthening of the CDU in the Autonomous Regions and the strengthening of CDU's positions in the respective Regional Legislative Assemblies are purposes of great national importance.

2. The Central Committee underlines the importance of the party organisation, a decisive foundation for the intervention and the affirmation of the Party, the deepening of its roots in the working class, the workers, the Portuguese people, the implementation of its objectives and ideals, and it stresses the efforts undertaken in order to strengthen the Party.

From the results obtained, characterised by great regional differences and among the several appointed directions, the following way may be pointed out:

. a greater approach with the problems of the populations, the workers, the areas where the organisations operate and a growth of the initiative and positions on these matters;
. the realisation of more than 300 Organisation Assemblies, which represents an important increase in relation to proceeding periods;
. the recruitment for the Party, during the current year, of more than 1300 new members, 40% of which not being yet 30 years old;
. the rejuvenescence and renewal of the organisms;
. the steps taken in the activity and organisation among the workers, with contacting campaigns, which enabled a wider knowledge of the existing companies and sectors, the creation of structures to act close to the workers and the reactivation of some cells.

These advances took place in demanding political conditions, in a year and a half, two referenda and two national elections where held, which generally hindered to focus on the guidelines proposed for the Party's strengthening, raised difficulties in their implementation and limited the results obtained.

However it should be pointed out that, the insufficiencies, difficulties and delays continue. Insufficiencies in the dynamization of the grassroots organisations – the cells in the workplace, in places of dwelling and in socio-professional areas – and in their identification, in giving responsibilities to the cadres and in the evaluation and enlargement of the active nucleus and severe unsurpassed delays in the action and organisation among the working class and workers in general.

The Central Committee considers that, in a more favourable political moment, with the positive impact of CDU's electoral results and having in horizon a year full of political battles, but which enables a greater indispensable concentration of energies in the organic reinforcement together with political action, better conditions are created for a new dynamism in carrying out the strengthening of the Party.

The Central Committee appeals to all members to, benefiting from the present conditions, begin engaging with determination in the pursuit of previous guidelines (namely those defined in the Central Committee meeting of 15.02.98) to strengthen the intervention and organisation of the Party and the growth of its influence, particularly stressing:

. The intensification of the efforts to reinforce the grassroots organisations – their growth in numbers, regular functioning, strengthening of their life and political initiative. Thus, the need for a special effort in carrying out Organisation Assemblies between January and April 2000, in those grassroots organisations that did not take place this year. Assemblies to be held without formalisms, getting together communists to discuss the problems and aspirations of the workers and the populations, from the areas where they operate, to define lines of intervention, initiatives, movements and struggles, point out measures for spreading the Party's proposals and ideals and the diffusion of the "Avante!" and party press in general and to elect their respective leaderships.

. The incrementation of an effective activity plan to reinforce the organisation and intervention of the Party among the working class and all the workers. There is a need of an evaluation of all existing sectors and companies, of the present situation of the party organisation and intervention, evaluate the steps taken, to define and redefine aims and intervention plans, paying special attention to young workers, with the planning of work, cadres, means, priority insertion of party members in their company or sector organisations, associating organisation with the struggle for economic demands and political initiative.

. The development of work with other social sectors and strata, in particular with the youth, carrying out forms of work and flexible intervention in articulation with JCP ( Portuguese Communist Youth), contributing to its reinforcement and the Party's growth of influence.

.The development of a large task of recruitment, adding the militancy and initiative of new members to the party collective.

. The promotion of a courageous responsabilization of cadres and rejuvenescence of organisms based upon many comrades who joined the Party and/or stood out and whose political preparation and political and ideological formation should also deserve attention.

.The implementation of a vast action of contacts with Party members and an appeal for participation in party life, in articulation with the preparation of Assemblies of grassroots organisations and the strengthening of the organisation among the workers.

3. The strengthening of the organisation and the political and ideological intervention of the Party also demands a greater diffusion and reading of the “Avante!” and the “Militante”, as well as their enrichment. A remodelling process of the “Avante!” which will be implemented around its 69th. anniversary, is under way. Its aim is to ensure that the “Avante!”, will continue its role as the PCP's central organ, and also that it will enrich its function of transmitting the positions and proposals of the Party, the activity of its organisations and an information and analysis of the great national and international issues. Taking into account the need and the political, ideological and party importance of a greater diffusion of the “Avante!”, and the party press in general, the increase in its sales, of a growing stimulus for its reading, The Central Committee has decided to carry out a wide campaign aiming at these objectives and which, preceded by a debate in the party collective, will begin in February next year.

The Central Committee has decided to hold the XVI Congress of the PCP in the last quarter of 2000, at date to be set later.

The preparation of the Congress should be included in the general activity and the great tasks of the Party and promote an active participation of the whole party collective and the engaged analysis and contribution of the Party members.

The Central Committee also decided to analyse and discuss the start of the work of the Congress in its next meeting top to b e held at the beginning of the year.

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