Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, XVIII Congress of the Portuguese Communist Party

Closure speech of the 18th Congress of PCP

We have reached the end of our XVIII Congress.

Not the end of a 3 day event, but the culmination of a process we began and are preparing since February.

The participation, the creative opinion of thousands of comrades, men, women and youth, with different experiences, social origins, wisdoms and knowledge’s – reflected in the hundreds of proposals of amendment, the majority of which were considered in the approved Political Resolution – the democratic manner of the process of congress delegate election can affirm truthfully that the voice and the conclusions of the XVIII Congress were the voice and conclusions of our party collective, expression of their ideology, orientation, objectives for action, their collective strength, will and intelligence.

Those that live by the media, the divergence and disagreements they like to cover, were disappointed because there was "no clock and dagger", no "backroom negotiations", no satiric, operatic warfare, but a scenario of great convergence in the analyses and votes. Compare the depth of the analyses, the knowledge of reality, the proposals, the project that animates us and then make your judgments. Perhaps they do not understand the value of direct and participated involvement of more than 26,000 party members that took the draft proposal as their own, discussing and reflecting with other comrades on what would be best for the Party, for the workers, for the people and the Country – proposing, questioning, suggesting and deciding.

The workings of the Congress itself, the permanent and high presence of delegates during our work, listening to the speeches however simple, is proof that, respecting the party collective, we respect the individual. This is a mark of distinction. We are not here to listen to leaders or candidates to leadership positions, to give our support (or not) thinking about leadership positions or power. Our Congress had that politics has of most noble and dignified. It was the struggle, work, strength of an ideal, opinions and contributions, the participation of militants and they militancy that were the basis of the success of our Congress.

Because we are a Party of militants with diverse responsibilities and not of militants of various categories, allow me to salute, from the rostrum, those who were not visible here: the comrades that in the most diverse tasks – organization and execution of the works, technical support and security of the Congress, transportation, copying documents, among others – deserve not only a reference but a fraternal applause.

An applause that also embraces the comrades from Lisbon and Setubal that opened their homes to host hundreds of delegates and guests from more distant regions.

If in the beginning and during our works, the Party saluted the Congress it is also fair that in its closing ceremony the XVIII Congress salute the Party, salute all its militants.

The delegates to the Congress elected a new Central Committee, based on a proposal that resulted and was built with the evolvement and opinion of the Party organisms and organizations, corresponding to the criteria of renewal and rejuvenation, of social composition, of ties to the organization and the masses, and with a slight reduction in numbers.

The Central Committee was elected by nearly the entirety of the more than 1400 delegates, with 98% votes in favour.

We decided to elect the Central Committee by secret ballot. We did so to defend the party [it is required by Political Party Law] and to be in a position to struggle against and insolent and anti-democratic law.

We have no problem with holding (or not) a secret ballot, as proved by the fact that we have written as such in our Program regarding elections as a foundation of political power and legitimacy in the constitution of its organisms.

An important reference regarding the departures from the Executive Organisms and the Central Committee.

In general, these are cadres that will continue in the Party Leadership or in the Party. And we will not make homage’s or give goodbyes as they will continue among us and above all with continue with the Party, its ideal and its struggle.

This Congress affirmed the Party we have and the Party we are. The Central Committee has the responsibility of reaffirming that a Communist Party does not limit itself to have that name but to be one in fact.

If during the preparation of our Congress we open, also over the last three days we were also not closed within ourselves, discussing only internal issues. We spoke of the Party life, the strengthening of our party, the paths and orientations that had achieve that objective, but even on these themes we established barriers, closing our the problems and interests of workers, the people and the country.

We did not conjecture, or personalize the conclusions and resolutions of the XVIII Congress. But – due to the customary distortions, not so much about what we are, but about what we want – we reaffirm to the workers and Portuguese people that Party leaves the Congress a confidant and determined with the conviction to pursue the struggle against the right-wing policies of the Government, responsible for so much harm.

We analyzed, reaffirmed our availability for the necessary struggles, presented alternative proposals and raised the need to break away from this policy that is inflicting enormous injustices, inequalities and social and economic setbacks.

We have a very strong conviction and idea: that the workers, the Portuguese people and Portugal are not doomed to this situation, to this state of affairs, to this course which has no just and democratic outcome. There are two paths: either one accepts the continuation of this policy, or one breaks with it and brings about the necessary change.

And if it is true that discontentment grows, and that the social basis of support for the current policies and the current Government is shrinking, the need for a break and a new policy, that can tackle the country's problems, is still far from clear. We do not just criticize (and it is curious that there are some who cannot take a criticism and think that they are above any critical remarks – they, who are always ready to label and criticize our Party).

Is it a question of rehabilitating and retouching, a question of putting new patches on old clothes, or are they really talking about breaking with these policies? A break [with this policy] will come about through the struggle of the workers, the farmers and fishermen, the intellectuals and technical staff, the youth, women, pensioners, small and medium businesspeople, all citizens, the patriots and democrats who are troubled by the future of their country and of democracy. It must be based on their concrete problems, on their legitimate interests and rights, but converging in a broad social front which may become a political opposition, and a political opposition which supports the force that bears with it a left-wing policy and alternative – the PCP.

That is where you can find us. By your side and with you. And, rather than telling us «fight for us!» (and you may rest assured that we will), say rather «we shall fight with you!».

To those who think only in terms of power and for power's sake, and say that as far as policies are concerned, «we shall see», we wish to reaffirm here that no one should ask the PCP to accommodate and "be good", in the expectation of a few seats that may be on offer.

We shall be in power when the Portuguese people so wishes. And on that day, we shall exercise power based on a policy of truth, which doesn't always give you votes, but which bonds this Party to its unbreakable commitment to the interests, rights and yearnings of the workers and the people, to freedom, democracy and national independence. That is the raison d'être of our nature, of our attitude, of our struggle and of our very existence.

The 18th Congress showed and proved that yes, a stronger PCP is possible, even in a context of resistance, a context in which to resist is already a victory. Equipped with, and strengthened by, the conclusions and deliberations that were adopted here, let us extend this slogan: yes, a better life for those who work is possible, fighting to defend individual and collective rights, against unemployment and precariousness, for better wages and conditions of work.

Yes, it is possible: to have more dignified pensions and retirement, better protection against illnesses and in old age, as well as for disabled people; to strengthen the public and universal social security system.

Yes, a different policy for young people is possible, in their work, at school, in terms of housing, providing conditions of stability for a happier future.

Yes, a democratic education is possible, with a public school geared towards the integral education of the individual, rather than packaging them as a commodity, in accordance with the interests of capital.

Yes, a universal, general and free National Health Service is possible, at the service of the Portuguese people, and not of business and profits.

Yes, it is possible to defend our productive apparatus and national production, encourage the domestic market, and support our industry, our agriculture and our fisheries, our small shops, putting an end to liberalization and privatization and to the casino economy.

Yes, it is possible to put an end to the domination of economic power over political power.

Yes, it is possible to recover our economic sovereignty and preserve national independence, fighting against and refusing a neoliberal, monetarist, federalist Europe and proposing a Europe of free and equal nations, a Europe of the workers and the peoples.

Yes, it is possible to have a country that defends peace and cooperation with all peoples and countries.

But this can be possible only if we put an end to the policies that have been carried out for decades, only if we embark anew on, and materialize the project which is still enshrined in the Constitution of the [Portuguese] Republic. Let us fight for that!

The 18th Congress asserted the value and relevance of our ideal, of our convictions, of our goals. The speeches we heard here were those of people who are paying attention to the surrounding reality and learning from it, who are analysing what is new in a world in constant motion, and seeking answers for new situations and new phenomena. [The Congress] affirmed the Party's class nature, its Marxist-Leninist ideology, as an open theory that springs from life and responds to it. [The Congress] affirmed our organizational principles, in which democracy is the guarantee of the sovereignty of the collective and of members' rights, and where there is a central leadership and line.

[The Congress] stated the Portuguese Communists' profound love for the Portuguese motherland, which is inseparable from an active and inalienable internationalist solidarity, stating to the foreign delegations who are present at our Congress that they can convey back to their Parties the fact that here, in Portugal, there is struggle for social change and socialism; there is a Party of solidarity, which is ready to cooperate and converge with all those who fight for social justice, progress and democracy; which defends sovereignty, is against war and for peace, and confronts imperialism.

In our 18th Congress, with a view and analysis that was not short-termist, we have wanted to know the world in which we are living and existing, to assess the current and profound crisis of capitalism, which is faced with its own limitations and contradictions, with its incapacity to provide answers for the problems and scourges that affect millions of human beings all over the planet.

We warned against the dangers that result from imperialism's military superiority, but at the same time spoke of the potential that exists for the workers, the peoples, progressive and revolutionary forces, to resist, defend and even win new rights and sovereignty.

We affirmed socialism as the alternative and a superior system for Humankind.

We leave with confidence, but not to enjoy the success which this Congress represents. There is much that has to be done. There are so many struggles that have to be waged.

But it was a magnificent Congress. Absent from it were conformism, fatalism and discouragement. They have no place here. Here we had hope which does not sit down and wait, hope grounded on a fascinating project of transformation and with the awareness of the difficult struggles that await us and will come.

Here we gave form to, updated and signed a pledge of honour with the Portuguese people: to do everything to ensure a better life, a more just and democratic country, without losing sight of the horizon of a society freed from the exploitation of men by other men.

1st December. 2008

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XVIII Congresso do PCP