Statement PCP Central Committee

Communiqué of PCP's Central Committee - Meeting of 5th-6th February 2000

The Central Committee of the PCP, having met on February 5th and 6th, analysed and discussed the social and political situation, appreciated the activity carried out lately by the Party and defined the essential party tasks in the immediate future. The CC also effected the first discussion on the issues concerning the process of preparing the 16th Congress of the PCP, to be held in Lisbon, at the "Pavilhão Atlântico", on the 8th, 9th and 10th of next December.

I
To continue and intensify the struggle against a right-wing policy

1. The Central Committee stresses, as relevant factors of the present situation, on one hand, the continuation and deepening, by the PS Government, of a markedly class policy, having as main beneficiaries the big economic and financial groups and whose negative consequences fall mainly on the workers; and, on the other hand, the development of the struggle against concrete aspects of this policy, involving many thousands of workers from multiple companies and areas of activity. The discontent and protest of different groups and social strata grow due to the right-wing policy, adding to this situation the serious crisis in justice and other areas of national life, the confirmation, by declarations of ex-members of Government, of the subjection of the Government to lobbies and interest groups, the obvious uncoordination and inefficiency of the Government in relation to many problems.

The CC however stresses that, in spite of this, the Government has benefited from multiple factors of diversion and distraction of the public opinion, such as the show of disorientation and crisis in the PSD.

The CC stresses and values the increasing affirmation of the PCP as the great opposition left-wing force of the struggle for a left-wing policy, as witnessed by the strong, intense and diversified intervention of the Party in the fight against the wright-wing policy, in the presentation of concrete proposals aiming at solving problems, in the dynamisation and active support to the struggles of the workers and the populations.

There are conditions, through the growth of the political initiative of the Party, to mobilise more and more workers and citizens in the struggle for the solution of concrete existing problems, to resist the Government's right-wing policy and impose on it reversals and defeats on social and political levels.

2. The Central Committee considers that the continuous line of the PS Government's social policy not only does not answer the legitimate aspirations and demands of the workers, but maintains and worsens many existing problems, namely in big companies and sectors. The labour policy is characterised by a growth in precarious jobs and the pressure for an early retirement from the labour market, by lack of appliance and violation of labour laws, by brutal attack on jobs with rights. The situation in companies like TAP, Lisnave, Portugal Telecom, Siemens - where employment and other fundamental rights of thousands of workers are seriously threatened; the budgetary guideline to contain and devalue salaries in Public Administration (together with the lack of answer to the specific demands of teachers, nurses, Public and Local Administration employees and many public and private companies), breed discontent and the need for the development and growth of the struggle is in the order
of the day.

In this context and in face of the decision of CGTP-IN, in the framework of the so-called " Summit on Employment", to call for a great mass action on March 23rd., the Central Committee appeals to all workers to participate actively in this action.

3. The Central Committee analysed the State Budget for 2000 - which the Assembly of the Republic will discuss and vote during this month - and considers that the worst expectations are confirmed; the PS Government is not interested and does not want to promote fiscal justice. On the contrary, it maintains the present injustices and worsens them in relative terms, namely in the different treatment wielded on labour incomes and profits of the big capital. Furthermore, the Budget keeps most of the fiscal benefits to financial operations and activities and the illegitimate and scandalous fiscal privileges bestowed on the banking system. In truth, the fiscal disaggravation falls exclusively on profits, in particular of the big companies, totally forgetting the labour incomes - in an unequivocal display of the class interests defended by PS Government. Furthermore, the measures to fight against fiscal fraud and evasion are absent in the Budget and the Government itself denies its recent declarations, showing that finally, for example, it continues to consider banking secrecy a "sacred taboo".

The CC also stresses the privatisation fury very clear in the Budget, that the Government is carrying out in strategic sectors such as air transport and energy, preparing to sell, this year, more 500 million contos [1 conto=1 thousand escudos] of the State own property. Privatisations that, together with the concentration processes of the banking and big distributive sectors, hand over the control and command of these sectors to foreign capital, worsen the degree of monopolisation of the Portuguese economy, create unemployment, and degrade and endear essential
services and goods.

In view of such a government proposal, the CC confirms the position already publicly expressed by its Political Commission, clearly assuming a vote of rejection of the State Budget.

II
The Presidency of the European Union

1. The Central Committee analysed the programme of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, which occurs from the beginning of January till June of the current year.

The objectives of transforming it into a huge whirlwind of ministers and personalities, into several conferences and seminars, in the option for propaganda and show, laying aside the crucial problems facing the European Union and Portugal, are already clear. Even when the problems treated are of significant interest and opportunity, as is the case of the Summit on Employment, the true content of the advanced initiatives and proposals shows that, above all, it tries to justify the present neoliberal guidelines, and generally the root of the problems to be allegedly solved. As in previous summits, the Summit on Employment is only a repetition of concepts and platitudes, under the guise of the usual "solutions" centered on the precariousness and reduction of the costs of labour, and without a clear bet on the objective of full employment, of the guaranty of the rights of the workers, on wage increase and the implementation of a real social and economic cohesion.

2. The Central Committee considers particularly serious that issues such as the expansion of the European Union to the East and some serious problems affecting the country - namely in fisheries, textiles and agriculture - have not deserved the necessary effort from the Portuguese Government to be included as central themes of the Presidency's agenda. The CC reminds that, in the agricultural sector, once again millions and millions of contos were announced which, as in the past, were strongly inflated and that, with the restrictions imposed by the Common Agricultural Policy and the Government's agricultural policy, will not solve the structural problems of the Portuguese agriculture. It is enough to stress that half of the public expenditure anticipated in the III CQA for agriculture is aimed at partially compensating the reduction of prices decided in the scope of CAP. In the meantime, it is well known that milk producers face the risk of, for the first time, paying heavy fines for exceeding milk quotas - a situation that by itself shows the fraud of the alleged government success in Berlin, in the negotiations of the 2000 Agenda - which, together with the growth of epizootic diseases (leucosis, brucellosis etc.), and the continuing discriminatory embargo of the Community on Portuguese beef, is creating severe problems to the production of Portuguese cattle breeders, demand serious and urgent Government measures.

In the fisheries, the exclusiveness of the 12-mile area for the practice of fishing, as well as preferential right in the 24 mile area continues to be not assured to the national fleet. The options contained in POP IV maintain and deepen measures aiming at the reduction of production and at same time the financial means of support are being reduced.

3. It is equally serious, in the view of the CC of the PCP, the prospect of active collaboration of the Portuguese Government in the process of the reform of institutions - voting mechanisms and veto rights, number of commissioners and rotation of presidencies, working languages - deepening the conduction of the European Union by a directorate of the great countries and significantly reducing the capacity of countries with smaller economies and populations in the decision processes of the Community.

The emphasis of federalist guidelines goes hand in hand with a set of measures aiming at providing the European Union with a Common Policy of Security and Defence, namely by creating new political and military structures, in an apprehensive escalade of militarization of Europe.

The implementation of this objective, falsely presented by some as the Europe's "franchise charter" vis a vis the US and NATO, actually aims at stepping towards the enshrinement of an EU Foreign Policy as a subject of the international Law, increasingly substituting the member States - through Mr. PESC [High Representative for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy] - in the definition and execution of a foreign policy for defence and security.

The Central Committee stresses that the PCP - who at the right time warned about the nefarious and dangerous path which is followed - strongly rejects options that degrade the exercise of sovereignty and national independence, which do not serve cooperation and development, which lessen even more the role of the UN and OSCE.

4. The CC, evaluating the meaning and seriousness of the situation deriving from the formation of the new Austrian government and its announced developments, considers that the entry of a far right-wing party in the Government of Austria, causes deep worry and indignation, and it is legitimate and necessary that on the level of the political forces and public opinion, such a decision be politically criticised and condemned.

In the meantime, it is necessary not to disregard the causes probably determining the electoral success of that party and in which seem to stand out the demagogic and populist exploitation of just insatisfactions in vast sectors of the population caused by the neo-liberal policies of the socialists (and their past coalitions with the conservatives) and the long dominance and hegemony of the Austrian political life by those two parties.

At the same time, considers the CC of the PCP, one cannot but consider as a dangerous precedent and a counter productive attitude that institutions of the European Union or a group of European countries claim the right or express the pretension to act as a supranational organ of tutelage over the sovereign decisions of every country and people.

The Central Committee considers that it is necessary to show active solidarity to those who resist and fight in Austria against the ongoing dangerous evolution.

5. The Central Committee appeals to the mobilisation and intervention of the Portuguese, through a diversified set of initiatives, namely those already announced, to point out and claim the need of a different course for the European Union, as long ago has been defended by the PCP. It is with this aim that the Study Days of the Confederal Group of United European Left/Nordic Green Left will take place in Lisbon on March 8th-9th, on the theme of employment; that it will promote a Meeting/Forum of Communist Parties and other left-wing international forces on March 23rd; and that is reaffirmed the PCP's willingness to participate at the "Alternative Summit", scheduled for March 24th and promoted by different social and cultural organisations.

The Central Committee considers that these are initiatives which should contribute to impel a course, which takes into account the specifics of small countries like Portugal. A course which inverts the present path towards a federal Europe, a political and military block at the service of the interests of transnational capital, in favour of an European Union of sovereign and equal in rights countries, a real convergence of the economies and social and economic cohesion. A course which eliminates the roots of racism, of xenophobia, of outbreak of the far right-wing forces in Europe. A course for an Europe of peace and co-operation.

III
To pursue and widen a strong Party's intervention

1. Proceeding with a general appreciation of the activity lately carried out by the Party in a particularly demanding political and social situation, the Central Committee points out that, in accordance with the essential guidelines defined in its meeting of 25.11.99, the Party registers an intense, diversified and dynamic intervention, either in the field of general political action, or in parliamentary intervention and of the Party organisations.

2. In effect, and in spite of insufficiencies and limitations, it is namely to be stressed in the Party's intervention:

• a firm criticism and a close surveillance of the activity, guidelines and decisions of the Government (and in this field to be pointed out, among many other examples, the essential role in denouncing the situation at TAP, the increase in the prices of public services, the handing over of strategic areas of the economy to foreign groups);
• the tabling of a valuable set of legislative proposals and initiatives which represent a qualified contribution and remarkable effort in order to overcome severe problems and situations of crisis in the areas of health (resolution on the increase of formation of doctors and nurses and a programme of cost reductions in medicines, which were approved in general); of justice (notably the proposal on the creation of justices of peace); of social security (law on bases, increase in pensions and lowering of the retirement age for women), of taxation (bill on the global reform of income tax), of protection and guaranty of the rights of the workers and citizens (notably the already approved bill on measures of protection of women subject to violence and the bills referring to increase of minimum wage, unemployment, benefits to under contract but not appointed teachers, the exercise of rights by the military men); of improvement and democratic participation of the political system (prohibition of party financing by companies, popular legislative initiative and regime of appreciation of petitions by the Assembly of Republic);
• an active and engaged intervention by the communists in the dynamisation and development of social struggle and in the strengthening of the intervention of the social organisations, in defence of the interests of the workers and populations.

3. The Central Committee stresses the importance of continuing and deepening the Party's intervention with these valuable characteristics, stressing, within the whole party and at all levels of responsibility, the attention and sensibility to the heartfelt problems of the workers and the population, the love and capacity of a quick political intervention and stand, the valorisation and better diffusion of the Party's proposals and the creation of strong currents of opinion and support to their implementation.

4. So, and in a very vast and diversified framework of responsibilities and tasks in the short run, the Central Committee appeals, namely to the special involvement of the party organisations and members in actions, initiatives, such as:

• the national action of explanation and social mobilisation around PCP's proposals for "more fiscal justice/less taxes on labour", scheduled for 14th-28th February;
• the campaign of promotion and diffusion of "Avante!" which, since the remodelling to be implemented on the issue of 17th February,
will continue until the "Avante!" Festival;
• the initiatives and actions to be held on women's rights, around the Woman's International Day /March 8th);
• the campaign of contacts and action with the workers to take place in the period between 14th March and 15th April, about their problems and rights, explanations about the government policy, information and valorisation of the Party's new legislative proposals;
• the initiatives around the issues of health, education and Social Security, scheduled for the first half year;
• the support to the workers' struggles for better wages, for jobs with rights, for the implementation of labour rights, as well as other actions of protest and claim from other strata and social sectors affected by the Government policy, and an active support and mobilisation to ensure success of the rally convoked by the CGTP-IN for 23rd March (date of the so called EU " Summit on Employment" in Lisbon);
• the initiatives commemorating the "Student Day" and the "Youth Day", respectively on 24th and 28th March, about the defence of free and good quality Public Education and the youth's rights;
• the initiatives commemorating the Party's 79th anniversary, which should constitute a dynamising element of the Party's intervention, affirmation of its proposals and ideals, of political debate and strengthening of the ties of solidarity, of comradeship, of work and participation of the Party members;
• the implementation of working plans of regional and local organisations, with special emphasis on the initiatives and forms of intervention which widen the presence and intervention of the Party in specific and heartfelt problems in those regions;
• the strengthening of the party's organisation, which constitutes a fundamental instrument for increasing the Party's capacity of intervention, deepening its connexion with the masses and strengthening its influence, (reinforcing the grass-root organisations and carrying out a vast number of Organisation Assemblies, action plans to strengthen the Party's organisation and intervention together with the working class and all other workers, development of the work with other sectors and social strata, particularly the youth, recruitment, responsibilisation of cadres and a vast contacting action with Party members).

5. The Central Committee decided to schedul for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, September the "Avante!" Festival, the success of which demands its preparation from now forward by the Party's organisations and members.

The Festival of Joy, to be held on 7th, 8th and 9th July in Braga, needs the support and solidarity of the different Party's Regional Organisations.

The Central Committee also decided to carry out between March and October of the current year a National Funds Campaign in order to ensure the financial resources for the diffusion campaign of the "Avante!", for the Party's intervention and the expenses with the XVIth Congress.

6. The Central Committee also stresses the need of paying most attention and actively supporting the preparation of the PCP's and CDU's intervention at the important regional elections in Madeira and the Azores (to take place next October) and, in the framework of the continuing efforts for strengthening and improving the intervention in Local Government, advancing some aspects of the preparation of the intervention at local elections in December 2001.

7. In spite of the oppositionist demagoguery of the PSD and PP, which tries to conceal its true support of the fundamental lines of the policy carried out by the PS Government, and in spite of the difficulties and obstacles created by the elements of diversion and artificiality which distort and degrade the national political life, there are favourable conditions to strengthen PCP's influence and for its greater affirmation as the great force of the left-wing opposition to the PS Government's right-wing policy and as the leading player in the struggle for a left-wing policy.

IV
XVIth Congress - For a great affirmation of the Party

The Central Committee examined some issues dealing with the preparation of the XVIth Congress, having decided to schedule its convening for 8th, 9th and 10th December of the current year, at the "Pavilhão Atlântico", in the "Parque das Nações" in Lisbon, and leaving for further date the approval of the Agenda, as well as the rules for the preparatory debate.

The Central Committee also approved a work memorandum with some topics for the initial debate, which being a reference on some central issues presented to analysis and reflection of the members and organisations, does not empty the diversity of issues to be analysed and debated.

The Central Committee stresses that the preparation of the XVIth. Congress is the great task of the current year for all the party, and should be articulated and complemented with the intervention, the dynamics of struggle and the general action of the Party.

Based upon the experience and methodology accumulated from the preparation of previous Congresses, and without detriment of the reflection on possible improvements and further decisions that the Central Committee deems necessary, it is already important to make efforts for the greatest depth and amplitude of the reflection and of the preparatory debate of the XVIth Congress, through the largest possible participation and involvement of the Party's organisations and members, in search of more adequate answers to improve and strengthen the Party's intervention, its organisation and the leadership' work. The Central Committee decides that the preparation of the XVIth Congress be developped in three phases, being interwoven and complementary:

• In the first phase, and starting from the work memorandum approved by the Central Committee, it should be tried to involve the largest number of organisms and members through different initiatives, with a view of analysing the problems, encouraging their reflection, the elaboration of proposals and debate on the main themes, issues and ideas the Congress should answer. This phase will occur from February to March.
• In the second phase, the Central Committee, taking into account the analysis from the contributions gathered in the 1st phase, will define the fundamental issues which the executive bodies should include in the elaboration of the documents to be approved by the Central Committee and submitted to debate among the members and organisations. This phase will occur in May and June.
• In the third phase, the whole Party will debate the projects of the documents approved by the Central Committee and to be submitted for appreciation by the Congress and will elect the delegates to the Congress according to the regulation previously approved by the Central Committee. This phase will begin at the end of September/beginning of October, upon the publication of the documents in "Avante!",which will create space for the intervention of the Party members.

The Congress is assigned the task of proceeding to a profound reflection on the great national and international problems, the prospects of social and political struggle, in the framework - which is uncertain and hugely complex, but also containing many potentialities - of the European integration and the national and international situation, on a clear definition of the left-wing alternative we are fighting for and the ways of reaching it.

Starting from the Programme and the Constitution in force and from the guidelines and Resolutions approved by the XIIIth, XIVth and XVth Congresses, taking into account the changes since occurred in the world, in the country and in the Party, the Congress should have as a goal to undertake a big effort to give more dynamism and initiative to the political intervention of the Party, in its connexion with the workers, the youth and other social strata, to widen its social, political and electoral influence, strengthening its political and ideological attraction, in a prospect of great confidence in the struggle for its values, ideals and project and of affirmation of its identity.

Within this scope, the Congress has as a goal to develop and to strengthen the Party's organisation, to involve, with greater responsibilities, the members, to continue the rejuvenescence and renovation of the Party's organic structures and leadership on its different levels, for an even greater affirmation of the PCP as the Party of the working class and the working people, as an irreplaceable Party in the struggle for defending the interests of the workers, the people and the Country, for democracy and socialism.

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