The Central Committee, having met on January 19th., analysed the present aspects of the national political situation, issues of party life and intervention, and the state of the preparation of the campaign for the Assembly of the Republic.
I. Aspects of the political situation and the pre-electoral framework
1. The national political life and its more recent developments show the reasons that led to the progressive erosion and discredit of the PS [Socialist Party] government and its policy. The imposition of a 2.7% pay increase for the Public Administration workers, and the refusal of PCP's proposals for the State Budget on matters concerning the increasing of pensions and wages, associated to the 2001 inflation rate, constitute a new blow to the buying power and standard of life of the Portuguese.
The situation is even worsened by the surge of increases in the prices of essential goods and services (bread, meat, medicines, energy, road tolls, register and notary fees, transportation) already in effect or announced.
2. At the same time, the labour and social situation of thousands of workers worsens significantly. The closure of companies and situations of delay in payment of wages, dismissals and job losses and attacks on the rights of those who work multiply. With the government standing quiet, there is an increasing pressure by the employers on the workers' wages aiming at their freeze and real loss, while at the same time the highest salaries in our country are at the same level as some of the highest in Europe. There is a confirmation of the deepening of inequalities and wider gap between the living standards of the Portuguese and the other peoples of the European Union.
3. And although underrated due to the dispersion of the media's attention by other aspects of national policy, one has to stress the multiple struggles, in various parts of the country and in different sectors of activity, which took place during the last days.
4. The lawsuit at Maia, [in the north of Portugal] involving 17 women accused of practicing abortion, confirmed that the heavy legal penalization of secret abortion with up to 3 years of jail sentences, is a real threat against the dignity and freedom of many Portuguese women. This lawsuit, which constitutes a symbol of a terrible injustice in Portuguese society, clearly shows and strengthens the need and urgency of, exercising its unquestionable legitimacy, the Assembly of the Republic, approving during the next legislature, a law depenalizing abortion.
5. The last months in the life of the PS government - specially marked, among other recent examples, by the unjust and inflexible offensive to reduce the real wages of the Public Administration workers, the advancement of new and disastrous steps towards privatisations, grievous decisions on matters of defence policies, namely under the European integration, the undemocratic change in the regime of the appointment of clinical directors and head nurses, the failure to materialize the bond of 6 thousand teachers under contract - portray some of the most negative traits of a policy of the right which, in some of its more structuring and dominant options, characterized the PS administration.
6. Under this framework, the holding of early elections, brought about by the prime minister's resignation and following the dissolution of the Assembly of the Republic, constitutes a chance, through the reinforcement of CDU [Democratic Unitary Coalition] and the numbers of its representatives, to strengthen the demand for a new policy for Portugal.
It will not be through distorted readings of the last local election results which, without any basis, try to present PSD and the right as an unstoppable rising force (which the local election results in no way allow) or of whitewashing and acquitting PS and its policy through the change of its leader, that will give credit to operations aiming at favouring bipolarisation and perpetuation of the same policy.
7. The Central Committee of the PCP draws attention to the attempts of presenting as new, solutions, which insist on the same and old political and government prescriptions, that the country knows, and among which stand out:
- the effort to wipe out from the memory of the Portuguese the heavy responsibilities and negative effects on the life of the workers and the Portuguese of a decade of PSD administration. This purpose is, however, made difficult due to the undisguised signs of arrogance and insistence by PSD in pursuit of fundamentalist and anti-social policies;
- and the simultaneous effort of acquitting and whitewashing the policy by PS, and presenting its future leader unbound from the most compromising and decisive options of the right, which marked the PS governments (where Ferro Rodrigues was one of the most outstanding and close executors of António Guterres' policy). This purpose is, meanwhile, being made difficult due to the ambiguous declarations concerning post-electoral alliances, the announced yielding to the old demand by the right on matters concerning changes of electoral laws, and the continuing insistence on a policy determined by the monetary criteria and impositions of the European Union.
II.The Party sets for the elections
1. The Central Committee stresses the holding around the country of meetings and plenary sessions, with the participation of thousands of members of the Party that took place following the appeal launched after its meeting on the 18th. December, aiming at, in the scope of strengthening internal democratic life, enlivening and participating in collective and individual reflection, contributing to the improvement of ideas, opinions and guidelines, which, in the materialization of the valid guidelines democratically approved in the 16th. Congress, enable to strengthen PCP's organisation and intervention and the action of its militants and better face the social, political and electoral battles in sight.
The Central Committee stresses, in a situation where there are elements of deception with the results of local elections and the doubts as to its causes, the determination and sense of responsibility with which most of the participants in the already held meetings and plenary sessions face the immediate and future action of the Party.
2. The Central Committee draws attention to the fact that, in contradiction with the practice of the party collective and in some cases spurning the existing possibilities of participation and discussion, some Party members, taking advantage of the legitimate and understandable concerns, dissatisfaction and discomfort with the results of the local elections and in collision with the statutory principles, promoted a signed petition demanding the convocation of an Extraordinary Congress of the PCP, a reproachful act, preceded and accompanied by an ample offensive of distortion of the Party's positions which favours and whitewashes the PS, and creating on the threshold of a demanding and difficult electoral battle, a negative situation of tension and disturbance. Taking into account these aspects and reaffirming the already expressed positions of the Political Committee, the Central Committee considers that there is no basis for the convocation of an extraordinary congress.
3. The Central Committee reaffirms the value of the contribution of each militant with his reflection and opinion, and in observance of the statutory principles democratically determined, that constitute the foundation of the Party's functioning and which binds everybody. It stresses the importance of continuing the natural and necessary reflection and debate, with the aim of strengthening the Party's organisation and influence.
The Central Committee greets the members of the Party for their contribution in defining the guideline and their participation in the party activity and particularly greets the more than 2000 new Party and JCP militants, who joined during the last year, their participation and responsibilisation being of the utmost importance.
4. The Central Committee set the dates 6th., 7th. and 8th. September for the 26th. "Avante Festival" and advances measures to prepare national initiatives, already decided and announced, namely on the action and intervention of the Party among the workers, and on the PCP and Local Government.
5. The Central Committee appeals to all Party militants and organisations, aware of the demands and difficulties, to set out with confidence in the preparation of the legislative elections, showing the need of a necessary rupture with 10 years of PSD governments and 6 years of PS governments, affirming the project of an effective policy of the left embodied by the PCP and CDU, working to explain and mobilize, to ensure more votes on CDU, an essential condition for a policy of the left in Portugal.
III. Essential matters of the battle of explanation
1. The Central Committee draws attention to the fact that the pre-electoral framework and the electoral campaign will forseeably be marked by two fundamental political manoeuvres already under way:
- the one which will be carried out by PSD trying to benefit from the dissatisfaction and discontent with the PS governments and their failure, trying to conceal not only that this failure is largely linked with PS continuing the essential political lines of previous PSD governments, but also, that PSD during the past 6 years, materialized a vast set of agreements and convergences with PS; in accordance with the large community of interests and identity of guidelines which, in several aspects, both parties clearly share;
- and the one which will be carried out by PS to exploit in its favour, among the voters of the left, the concern of a casual return to power by the right. Presenting itself in a mystifying way as the only "useful vote" to prevent this return, but concealing that it was its policy which strengthened the right and that no one ever saw PS troubled with the dangers represented by the right at the time of the many agreements and supports celebrated and negotiated with the right on matters of decisive importance and vast effects (sometimes with PSD, sometimes with CDS-PP, sometimes with both).
2. The Central Committee also draws attention that, as is their direct interest, PSD as well as PS are preparing to revive old but nevertheless dangerous mystifications woven to condition and limit the choice of the citizens, namely emphasizing an alleged indispensability of a single party absolute majority, transforming the campaign to elect 230 deputies (who will influence the formation of a government) in a non-existent "election of the Prime Minister" (which devalues and undermines the election of deputies, who, on other occasions, PSD and PS consider should be "closer" to the voters), or even spreading the false idea that the decisive aspect of the electoral result is to choose the most voted party (even though without an absolute majority).
3. The Central Committee stresses that, in view of these manoeuvres, it is of crucial importance that the electoral intervention of PCP and CDU strongly fight the pressures in favour of a "bipolarisation" between PS and PSD (who have been verifiably the main instruments of the maintenance and impunity of the policy of the right), vigorously maintain that PSD is not an alternative to the policy carried out by PS and that PS is not an alternative of the left to the policy of PSD, clearly and persistently affirm that the country is not doomed to an "alternation" between PS and PSD, which changes faces and labels but changes nothing which is essential, and, with trust and confidence, show the need and urgency of the voters, by giving more strength to PCP and CDU, strengthening the demand for a new policy and an alternative of the left.
It is also of the utmost importance that the electoral intervention of PCP and CDU carry out a persistent explanation on the real nature and goal of the legislative elections and a mobilization of the voters against the undesirable PS or PSD absolute majority (which would inevitably constitute an instrument of arrogance, impunity and clientele), reminding that the failure of PS governments was due to its policy and not the lack of an absolute majority, since in the now interrupted legislature it had more favourable parliamentary conditions than in the previous one).
And, above all, as an essential and decisive pillar of intervention, it is necessary to develop a strong and convincing explanation which clearly shows that the necessary defeat of the right consists in the PSD (alone or together with CDS-PP) not achieving an absolute majority of deputies, that the votes on CDU and the deputies elected by CDU always contribute to put the right in minority, that dislocation of voters between CDU and PS in no way changes the numeric result of the right, but that dislocation from PS' voters to CDU give more strength to a policy of the left and a turn to the left after the elections.
IV. Main guidelines for the campaign
1. Taking into account the political framework in which the elections will be held and having in mind many opinions and contributions given by members of the Party during the meetings and debates, the Central Committee of the PCP, without prejudice of later developments and adjustments, calls for a strong, engaged and active campaign by PCP and CDU which, centred on a direct dialogue with the workers and citizens in general:
- favours a movement of opinion and a mobilization of wills and consciences having in view to strengthen the votes and the number of deputies elected by CDU, preferably in the framework of a global result in which, as it is indispensable, the parties of the right are in minority in the Assembly of the Republic, the PS does not obtain an absolute majority and, as a sign of the increasing popular demand for a policy of the left, a significant number of voters of other parties (namely PS) as well as of those citizens who have not voted, now do so in favour of CDU;
- asserts PCP and CDU as electoral protagonists of proposals, causes, values, ideals, convictions and a political project of the left clearly distinctive and alternative in relation to the right and in relation to PS, as well as in relation to the policies that, while in government, both PS and PSD carried out during the past 16 tears;
- asserts CDU as a force which, in clear contrast with the attitude of PS and PSD of an ostensive resignation, accommodation and fatalism in face of what is unjust and unacceptable, up-holds unconformism, insubmission and hope, and makes a strong appeal to all citizens to replace disbelief, abstention and loss of interest by the trust in the force of their opinion and in the efficacy of their vote;
- courageously valorises, among the different social strata, the vast heritage of proposals, interventions and actions carried out by PCP and the positive results obtained (with a natural stress on the valuable work of PCP's deputies) and asserts PCP as a responsible, firm and constructive force which wants, and, with a stronger electoral support, can decisively weigh in the definition of a new policy and political and government solutions to ensure them;
- puts at the centre of debate and electoral explanation, and with prioritary motives in forming the will and options of the voters, the real problems of the Portuguese and the country, the negative positions and attitudes concretely assumed by PS, PSD and CDS-PP during the last years and the need and urgency of a new policy which breaks away from the essential aspects of the policy defended and carried out by PS and PSD.
V. For a policy of the left
1. The Central Committee of the PCP outlines as the central issue under debate in the coming elections, the nature and contents of the policy for the country. And thus outlines that the most important issue that the coming election should address is to know if the policy of the right, reasserted by PS and retaken by PSD, will continue or a way is opened for an alternative and a policy of the left, through a solid electoral strengthening of PCP and CDU.
The policy of the left that the PCP proposes to the Portuguese people (and which will be developed in the Electoral Programme) is assumed in clear rupture with the continued policy of the right undertaken during the past 16 years, by the PS and PSD governments. It distinguishes by the firm compromise towards the workers, the people and the country. It distinguishes by the contents of its main pillars.
2. In detailing the policy of the left it upholds, the Central Committee of the PCP points out a set of great strategic objectives, guiding a programme to answer the hopes and aspirations of the Portuguese, to answer the economic, social and political deficits and strangulations, into which the country was led by the policy of the right.
· The policy of the left that the PCP proposes demands an economy at the service of Portugal's development and the well being of the Portuguese. A policy that defends national production and which, while refusing the continuation of privatisation and liberalization of services, public companies and markets, defends a strong, dynamic and efficient public sector, valorises and supports the development of micro sized, small and medium sized companies, the cooperative movement. It demands a policy which pushes a fast and sustained economic growth, free from the fetters of the Stability Pact and other foreign impositions, based on an economic pattern of valorised production, regionally balanced, and makes a rational use of energy and natural resources. It demands a different budgetary policy, guided by objectives of social progress and development, of combat to all types of wastes and rigorous discipline in the concession of public aid to private interests.
· The policy of the left that the PCP proposes demands the defence and increase of social rights, work with rights and quality employment, a firm combat against inequalities and the guarantee of a fairer distribution of the national income. It demands the revalorisation of wages and pensions, in particular of the most degraded ones; the progressive reduction of working hours without loss of acquired rights; the combat against precarious employment and the guarantee of the conditions of hygiene and on job safety; the implementation of fiscal justice, continuing the unburdening of the taxes on labour income and productive activities, taxing the income and added value of capital, promoting reform of taxes on movable and immovable property (tax on wealth), and combating financial speculation, tax fraud and evasion. It demands the defence of the public and universal system of Social Security, the rejection of projects of a creation of ceilings, the combat against evasion of contributions and the strengthening of its financing, the guarantee of the acquired rights and those in constitution, the improvement of social supports. It demands the strengthening of measures of prevention, treatment and social reinsertion of addicts. It demands the materialisation of the rights of women to equality in employment and in the family, in social and political participation. It demands the right of the defence of motherhood and fatherhood. It demands, together with the generalization of family planning and sexual education, the end of legal penalization of secret abortion. It demands an active policy of support to the Portuguese communities and a policy of integration of immigrant communities and the combat against racism and xenophobia.
· The policy of the left that the PCP proposes demands a developed, balanced and healthy country, which means a persistent and effective answer to regional asymmetries, a firm combat against environmental aggressions and a firm option for the territorial ordering. It demands a policy of public investments and policies adjusted to combat economic and human desertification of the interior and rural world, the disorder of the coastal areas and urban settlements without quality of life. It warrants administrative decentralisation and relaunching of the process of regionalization. It demands the involvement and leadership of the State and Central Administration in a responsibility shared with the citizens, local administration, public and private entities, in the defence and conservation of the environment and natural resources, in the rational ordering and occupation of the national territory.
· The policy of the left that the PCP proposes demands the defence, renovation and reinforcement of the public health and education systems, the promotion of culture and science. It demands the defence and improvement of the National Health Service, based upon regionalization and autonomy, democratic and more efficient management of its units, a new system of financing, and a clear separation between what is public and what is private. It demands urgent answers to the shortage of family doctors, nurses and other health technicians, the quality and humanization of services, the valorisation of primary health care, the solution of waiting lists, reduction of the cost of medicines and the promotion of the rights of the users. It demands, at all levels of education, the defence and improvement of free, democratic and quality public schools, a firm financial effort of revalorisation of educational action and the recovery of structural backwardness. It demands the generalization of physical education and democratisation of sport. It demands full assumption by the State, with the active participation of the scientific community, in the promotion of R&D activities and the enrichment of the national scientific system. It demands an answer to the information society and a cultural policy which protects the country's heritage and identity, projects and valorises Portuguese culture around the world, considers the cultural progress of the people and society as a strategic vector of the country's development.
· The policy of the left that the PCP proposes demands the defence and deepening of the democratic regime, speedy and easily accessible justice, credibility of political office and public institutions, democratic reform of the State and of Public Administration. It demands a better State, more efficient, open and close to the citizens, engaged in ending corruption, influence peddling and the impositions of economic groups, giving credibility to public life, political activity and the exercise of public duties. It demands decentralising, regionalizing, doing away with bureaucracy and the development of quality public services, promoting the rights of the users and valorising the public administration workers. It demands the recognition and the strengthening of the irreplaceable role of the parishes and municipalities. It demands the attribution of real means and powers to metropolitan areas. It demands measures with an aim of strengthening the peace and security of the populations, the resolute combat against organised crime and drug traffic. It demands, respecting the principle of separation and interdependency of the organs of sovereignty, strengthening the powers and supervisory role of the Assembly of the Republic. It demands a frontal rejection of antidemocratic changes in electoral laws for the Assembly of the Republic and local government. It demands an exemplary respect for the liberties and rights of the citizens, including the right to strike, on job trade union and political activity. It demands the promotion and valorisation of different forms of association, participative democracy and valorisation of active citizenship as essential contributions for strengthening the intervention of the Portuguese in national life.
· The policy of the left that the PCP proposes demands a courageous combat for peace and cooperation in the world and a European Union of States with sovereign and equal rights. It demands a patriotic and national policy that upholds independence and sovereignty as inalienable values. It demands an active policy of and for the respect of the UN Charter and international legality, opposing meddling and doctrines that try to submit countries and peoples, and/or condition international organisations to the interests and diktats of the USA and other great powers. It demands the struggle for disarmament and dissolution of NATO and the pledge, in a coherent policy, to combat underdevelopment and a world of cooperation, peaceful and solidary. It demands an engaged effort in the conquest of a new course for the European Union, which materialises the principles of "economic and social cohesion" and of "equalization in the progress of the living and working conditions" written in the Treaties, in respect for the equality of the rights of its States, refusing the federalist path, the reduction of the powers and the role of the smaller countries, and the logic of a political and military block.
3. Stressing that the electoral campaigns are not designed to serve as a scenario for negotiations between parties through the media, but to enable the citizens to a democratic confrontation of different proposals and projects, where mainly each party directly dialogues with the voters, trying to gain their confidence and adherence to its proposals, the Central Committee of the PCP underlines the great importance of PCP's electoral campaign trying to draw more and more Portuguese to the justness and correspondence with the national needs of the main pillars it proposes for a new policy.
4. The Central Committee reaffirms that the PCP, in line with its political project and a completely different attitude of that often taken in the past by the PS, and now once again acknowledged by PS for the future, rejects any possibility of agreements or alliances of general political incidence with PSD or CDS-PP, and will not be a supporting force to the policy of the right, be it undertaken by PSD or by PS.
Meanwhile, the Central Committee expresses the PCP's availability, following global election results that show the maintenance of the right in minority in the Assembly of the Republic, to examine with other democratic forces the possibilities of defining a policy of the left (which means a breakaway with the policy carried out up to the present) and the materialisation of a government solution which can respect, guarantee and apply it.
The Central Committee stresses, however, that it is upon the will, options and votes of the Portuguese that depends a positive evolution of the national political life after 17th. March, and that only an electoral strengthening of CDU will ensure a clear sign of rejection of the unfair and worn out policy that for too many years PSD and PS have been imposing upon the country, and can show a strong wish for change.
VI. With a confidence based upon work and action
1. The Central Committee of the PCP appeals to the whole Party to engage itself in the construction and development of an electoral campaign marked by a strong effort of proximity and direct contact with the voters that, through explanation and persuasion, can remove the old and recurring mystifications, affirm the distinctive value of our proposals and project and establish the support and vote on CDU as an indispensable condition to give strength to the demand for a new policy for Portugal.
2. The holding of a National Meeting of the PCP on legislative elections on the coming 27th., conceived as a moment of wide participation and debate on the main political and electoral guidelines, marks, in a more decisive way, the beginning of a demanding battle which will involve the best effort and dedication of thousands of members of the Party and CDU activists.
3. The Central Committee of the PCP draws attention to the urgent need of, together with the ongoing work of elaborating the slates to present, preparing in each region the programming and calendar of initiatives which contribute to the valorisation of the candidacies, the presentation of the respective electoral engagements, the involvement and mobilisation of thousands of activists who sided with us in the last local elections and all the propaganda and explanation actions indispensable to swell the current of those who see in PCP and CDU a necessary and irreplaceable force for Portugal.
4. The Central Committee of the PCP draws particular attention to the fact that different forces and interests are strongly engaged in an electoral weakening of the PCP and try to give and generalize the false idea that this weakening would be inevitable.
The Central Committee appeals to a strong understanding and an awakened conscience on the part of the members and sympathisers of PCP, CDU's voters, all men and women linked to the ideals of the left, that such a weakening would leave more unprotected all those who have relied on the solidarity and support of the PCP for their struggles and for the defence of their aspirations; it would make more arrogant and unpunished the policy of the right carried out by PS or PSD and would ease the strengthening of agreements and engagements between them; it would turn national political life poorer, swampier and more corrupt; it would open the way to even more shameless aggressions against public interest, social rights and essential elements of the democratic and constitutional regime such as the electoral laws; and would enable an even greater power of the economic groups on the political powers and democratic institutions.
5. Aiming at defeating these prophecies and at the affirmation of the strengthening of CDU in 17th March, the Central Committee appeals to the most large mobilisation of energies, capacities and wills of the whole party collective and all citizens who, although with differences of opinion and reservations on this or that issue, acknowledge the PCP as an indispensable force in Portuguese democracy, an irreplaceable force in defence and affirmation of the values of equality, justice and social progress, a force of resistance and a force of construction, a force with causes, values and convictions in a time when so many sacrifice and despise them, a force constructively engaged in opening the perspective of a real alternative of the left in Portugal.
6. With the confidence mainly based upon the work and action of its militants and supporters, and its constant action in defence of the interests of the workers and the Portuguese people, the value and results of the work in the Assembly of the Republic undertaken by its parliamentary group (once again, the most active and productive in the last two years), the causes it voices and projects in Portuguese society like no one else, the coherence and seriousness with which it intervenes in national life, the founded and viable proposals it presents for a new policy - the PCP will be in a condition to carry out with success the difficult, demanding and crucial challenge of the coming legislative elections.