Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP

Presentation of the Electoral Programme of the PCP for the 2015 Legislative Elections

Presentation of the Electoral Programme of the PCP for the 2015 Legislative Elections

The PCP today presents its Electoral Programme. A Programme that confirms and proves that there is a solution to the national problems, that there is another policy, patriotic and left-wing, capable of ensuring the country's development, social progress, raising the living standards of the workers and people, the affirmation of Portugal as a sovereign and independent nation.

A Programme of rupture with the prescriptions and paths that sank the country. A Programme to reverse the course of regression and open a horizon of progress and development. A Programme with a vision and goals opposite to those that led Portugal, by the hand of PS, PSD and CDS, to decline and impoverishment.

A Programme for a patriotic and left-wing policy that springs from the real situation of the Country and pointing the real causes which are at the root of the serious economic and social crisis that has struck it.

A Programme that, given the dramatic social situation into which the Country was thrown, responds to the massive emigration of half a million Portuguese, which compromises our future, an unsustainable unemployment of more than one million two hundred thousand unemployed, with the colossal economic and social costs of almost three million Portuguese thrown into poverty by the current policy
A Programme determined to tackle a crisis that, although prior, appears with special acuteness with the entry into circulation of the single currency, expanded with the worsening of the crisis of the capitalist system and which has become even more devastating in the last five years with the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) and the Pact of Aggression.
A Programme to overcome the Country's vulnerabilities resulting from the process of monopolist restoration and its inseparable programme of privatizations, of destruction of strategic sectors and liquidation of the productive sectors, of increasing finantialization of the economy, of a drastic cut in labour incomes and the rights of the workers.

A Programme of affirmation of dignity and national sovereignty in view of the constraints of the capitalist integration process of the European Union and its instruments of domination that, from the euro to the Budgetary Treaty have bound Portugal to dependency. A Programme that follows the path of the resistance and struggle that is needed to confront the dictates and impositions of the European Union and the IMF, because it is on the path of resistance and affirmation of sovereignty, and not in vassalage to the centres of transnational capital, that one defends the interests and rights of the Portuguese people and of the Country.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from this whole process of Greece (with its contradictions and ambiguities) is that it underlines the correctness of PCP's position. The study and the preparation of the country to be free from the submission to the euro and considering this issue becomes a real necessity. It is irresponsible not to consider this. We assume this necessity and the importance of Portugal having a budgetary, exchange rate and monetary policy of sovereignty. We cannot have a Country chained to the discretionary attitudes of Brussels and Berlin, a people hostage to the blackmail of the ECB or the Eurogroup.

A Programme that, with courage and truth, identifies the causes and puts forward solutions. A Programme that refuses to seek refuge in omissions, in false scenarios that will turn promises into more dramatic disappointments, in misleading solutions based on the same policies that led the country to the current situation. A Programme that clearly says what the Portuguese have already perceived: it is not with those who have dragged Portugal to the bottom, nor under their guidance, that the country will rise from the abyss into which it was thrown.

The Portuguese people have two great choices: to break with the policies of disaster that have brought so many hardships and condemn those who are responsible for nearly four decades of right-wing policies or, on the contrary, make room for what, for many years, only brings the prospect of exploitation, impoverishment, submission of the Country. Support and empower the patriotic and left-wing policy that the PCP and CDU propose to undertake or give a free hand to PS, PSD and CDS to prolong and intensify their policy.

The danger of these elections resulting in the continuation of this same policy of attack on the incomes of the people and the handing of national resources is not a mere conjecture. If you look at the programmes of the PSD/CDS coalition and of PS, it is a real possibility.

Whatever their outpour of good-hearted promises, with the same value as others have repeatedly made, they all fall apart in view of the real programme they present. Programmes to keep Portugal bound to an unsustainable debt that blocks its economic growth and swallows the available resources. Programmes of blind obedience to the impositions and instruments of the European Union that will only mean more destruction of rights, more sacrifices in vain, more attacks on workers' and peoples’ incomes. Programmes of subordination and handing to monopoly capital of strategic sectors and companies will only lead to more flight of dividends, more economic dependence.

No, the Country is not "better" nor the "sacrifices were worth it" like they preach. Only those who measure the country by gains of monopoly capital or praises from Mrs. Merkel can find that a country with a generation destroyed by forced emigration or by the unstoppable growth of poverty - where more than one million two hundred thousand Portuguese are deprived of the right to work and where the healthcare or education are already a luxury - can claim without any shame that the country that they leave when they are about to be removed from office by popular will, is better!

The Country is here, more vulnerable than before, as subject to speculation of the markets as they so choose, more economically fragile, with fewer resources and instruments to respond sovereignly to the necessary sovereign and independent development.

But the Country also remains here, with its human potential, the capacity and knowledge of its workers, the will of those who keep on working their micro, small and medium-size companies, its resources and natural wealth, its untapped productive potential.

Sufficient factors and conditions to meet the challenges of its collective present and future with a patriotic and left-wing policy, whose main focus is to raise the living standards of the workers and the people, putting into place their constitutional rights, affirming Portugal as a sovereign nation in a Europe and a world of peace and cooperation.

It is this policy that the PCP proposes to materialize, ready to assume all the responsibilities that the people want to give it. A policy that is not only indispensable but urgent, as necessary as possible and feasible.

Feasible with the strength and the struggle of the workers and the Portuguese people, with the mobilization of national resources, with economic growth, with the determined and steadfast affirmation of the right of the Country to a sovereign development, based on a rupture with the policies and guidelines of the Economic and Monetary Union, the euro and its constraints, the Budgetary Treaty, the Economic Governance of the European Union.

Feasible by mobilizing resources that will be freed with the renegotiation of the debt, with the reduction of its amounts and service costs. Feasible with the resources that the fiscal policy we propose will ensure, by taxing dividends, financial speculation, movable assets and big fortunes, allowing the necessary reduction of taxes on workers and people.

Feasible with the recovery of significant sums today buried in the dealings of PPPs and SWAP contracts.
They ask us: how to support the increase of rights and social protection you advocate, where will you get money to guarantee the right to healthcare and education, where are the means to resume public investments.

We answer: in many thousands of millions of euros, more than 15 thousand million euros per year, which our Programme clearly explains in sums that, in part, we have just pointed (from the reduction in debt service to the taxation of monopoly capital and its profits), resources that will expand with economic growth and employment, that a policy aimed at the valorising of productive sectors can and should ensure.

A Programme that proves that there are resources and means to support a policy of raising living standards and workers' and people’s incomes, that there are resources and means to expand social protection and ensure the rights to healthcare and education, that there are resources and means to relaunch investment.

A possible and feasible Programme because it is able to answer five issues basic for the future of the Country - the demographic and economic sustainability of the Country by creating conditions to reverse migration and bring back thousands of Portuguese; the massive unemployment and widespread insecurity ensuring increased production and job creation; the degradation of infrastructure and productive apparatus having as objective public investment and qualified private investment; the quantitative and qualitative weakening of the business community, ensuring a real policy of support for small and medium-sized enterprises, for which the role of banks under public control is essential; the plight of the State apparatus, with the dismantling of scientific and technological infrastructures and the depletion of human and material resources from essential public services, ensuring a policy that bets on research, qualified education and reverses the degradation of Public Administration and essential functions, that it has to provide.

The Programme that we present assumes economic growth and employment as the central goal of its policy. Only a sustained and vigorous growth, above 3% of GDP, will put an end to the long period of stagnation of the Country, ensure effective job creation, will stop the process of impoverishment of the population and ensure decent living conditions. A policy that gets Portugal producing, which has in the development of national production the engine of economic dynamism and the full use of national resources, the answer to boost domestic market and increase of exports of greater added value. A Programme aimed at the development of agriculture to ensure food sovereignty, supporting family farming, intervening in defence of our dominant productions, including the defence of a system of milk quotas and planting rights of vines, a policy to take advantage of the huge resources of our seas, namely fishing, in order to renew and modernize the fishing fleet, guaranteeing fishermen protection when prevented from exercising their activity, a policy of reindustrialization of the country that stops the strategy of mere production and extraction of raw materials handing the processing and incorporation of added value in production and products to interests other than national.
Among the many policies that we propose I would like to stress three due to their importance: The renegotiation of the debt; the recovery by the State of political control of the economy; a new and fairer fiscal policy.

A renegotiation of the debt which is itself a condition for development. Faced with an unsustainable debt that consumes the income of the Country and of the Portuguese the choice is clear: either we allow it drag Portugal further into the bottom as proposed by the parties of the national troika, or aim, without hesitation as the PCP does, to cut it by at least 50% its nominal value, and cut at least 75% the annual costs of its service. An articulated renegotiation with the study and preparation of the Country to break free from submission to the euro and what it means in terms of condemnation to stagnation, impoverishment and underdevelopment.

The recovery by the State, in the framework of a mixed economy that we advocate, of political control over the economy, with the recovery, through nationalization, proper negotiation or other instruments, of strategic companies and sectors, beginning with the banks, whose privatization took away from the State tools of economic control, strategic decision-making and operational management necessary for an economic and financial policy. Companies and sectors that, in any case, can and should be heavily regulated and subject to supervision. To those who having surrendered to the interests of financial groups contest this possibility, we point the cases BPN or, recently, we have learnt on BES, where the thousands of millions buried in the banks could and should have been used to ensure greater presence of the State in this strategic sector.

A State with real and effective economic and social functions in defence of national interests as opposed to a State, named regulator, submitted to the criteria and interests of economic groups.
A fair fiscal policy to reverse the transfer of labour income to capital and alleviate inequalities. No more taxes in the abstract. There are too many and more unbearable taxes on the workers, the people, small and medium-size entrepreneurs and fewer taxes, and very low, on big business, their profits and dividends. A fiscal policy aimed at alleviating the Income Tax (IRS), creating more levels and making it more progressive, reducing the standard rate of VAT and the intermediate rate for essential goods and energy as well as for the restaurants, reduce the maximum rate of the Municipal Property Tax (IMI), on the one hand; and on the other hand, tax income of capital and assets, restore the normal Corporate Tax (IRC) rate to 25%, mandatory tax on all income created in the territory and on financial transactions.

The Programme that we present assumes the valorisation of work and workers as an essential axis of an alternative policy. The PCP openly assumes the aim of valuing wages, beginning with the national minimum wage, setting it at 600 euros at the beginning of 2016.

A position that contrasts with those who look at wages as the only factor of adjustment regarding the interests of the so-called creditors, the constraints of the euro or the impositions of the Budgetary Treaty. What the Country has seen as false, with the impoverishment of the workers, is the theory that raising wages creates difficulties for business. Look at the attack on labour income over the past five years and at the half a million jobs destroyed and this theory goes down the sink. Yes, we bet on higher wages, because for us the workers come first, but also because by valorising their income the economy is boosted and the lives of thousands of small and medium-size enterprises is made possible. Yes, we inscribe the valorisation of wages as an aim because it is in this way, not by subsidizing companies with low wages, that we ensure workers' incomes today and their pensions tomorrow.
But also a Programme that assumes a decisive fight against deregulation of working hours and the defence and implementation of the right to collective bargaining. That sets as aim a national programme to combat precariousness and illegal work, enforcing the constitutional right to work and to job security and ensuring, in particular to the new generations, the conditions to remain in the country, have a family, fully conduct their lives and fulfil their dreams.

A Programme pointed towards achieving the well-being and quality of life.
Firstly by guaranteeing the right to healthcare, a goal that goes hand in hand with the strengthening of the NHS and a rupture with its underfunding and privatization. A policy of valorising the National Health Service and its professionals, with a hospital and primary care network to ensure access of all Portuguese to healthcare, ensuring a family doctor to all users, eliminating user fees, adopting a policy of medicines (particularly by increasing the sales of generic drugs and the creation of a national laboratory) that will bring gains for users and also for the State.

A Programme that defends and valorises the Social Security System - public and universal - capable of assuming its role, increasing the social protection of workers, the right to retirement and a decent pension, maternity and paternity protection. What the PCP proposes and will implement is, contrary to those who want to decapitalize to justify the cuts of rights, the materialisation of the twin objective of ensuring the financial soundness of Social Security and raising its payments. Objectives that will enable to restore the universality of child benefits, broaden the criteria for unemployment benefits to all those who are in this situation, restore the stolen retirement and pension payments and ensure their real increase.

A Programme of effective combat against poverty, intervening in the causes that are at its root. There is no combat against poverty based on criteria of welfare and charity criteria which ignore three essential vectors: measures to combat poverty among workers; measures to support families by reducing the tax burden, such as the protection of housing rights; measures to strengthen the social protection system and strengthening the network of equipments and social services aimed at the children, the elderly and the poorest people.

In other words, a policy geared towards economic and social independence of families, a condition for the well-being of parents and for the happy and healthy growth of the children.

A Programme that sees in education this major goal of an all-round moulding of children and youth with the affirmation of public schools, free, of quality and fully integrated, where everyone is guaranteed the right to knowledge and equal opportunities. A policy which implements all-round free public education as a strategic priority, to be achieved progressively, within a maximum period of six years, with free distribution of textbooks in compulsory education; that guarantees that all children from 3 years onward have a public network of pre-school education; strengthens social aid and establishes a strategic plan leading, articulated with increased funding for institutions of public higher education, to the abolition of tuition fees.

A Programme that ensures the State's cultural functions, releasing the huge potential of cultural democratization opened by the April Revolution, which implies a policy of investment in Culture and structuring a true Public Culture Service, and immediately guaranteeing 1% of the Budget for culture. A Programme that valorises the key role of professional structures of cultural and artistic creation and production, of workers and creators of culture.

A Programme that holds scientific and technical knowledge as a direct productive force, essential to economic development based on the recovery and revitalization of research centres and State laboratories, recruitment and training of technicians and research aides and valorisation of the statute of research fellows by effectively contracting them. Stop the exit of thousands of qualified young people in whom the Country invested and give them the conditions to use their knowledge in favour of Portugal and its development, is a goal that demands a rupture with the right-wing policy.
The patriotic and left-wing policy that the PCP proposes holds as its objectives the affirmation of democracy and compliance with the Constitution of the Republic. A policy which guarantees the rights of the citizens, ensures justice to all on equal terms, resolutely combats corruption and promiscuity between economic and political power, ensures the security and tranquillity of the citizens, affirms a National Defence policy based on constitutional principles.

The patriotic and left-wing policy that the PCP proposes puts on the agenda the rupture with the process of reconfiguration of the State at the service of big business, with the emptying of economic, social and political functions, and their transfer to monopoly capital and bodies of the European Union. Emptying and transfer that attack the democratic regime established in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.

A sovereign, independent and developed Portugal requires a democratic, representative State, based on popular participation, modern and efficient, essential components of the political regime, the functions of sovereignty and the economic and social tasks defined in the Constitution.

A patriotic and left-wing policy that confronts external constraints and conditions and assumes the affirmation of a free and sovereign Portugal, in a world and in a Europe of peace and cooperation among sovereign states with equal rights. A policy that refuses to submit Portugal to the dictates and policies harmful to the rights and interests of the Portuguese people and democracy, which relies on the strength and capabilities of the people to recover for Portugal instruments of sovereignty necessary for the progress and development of the Country.

In this context, the priorities are the reconsideration of the institutional framework of the European Union, particularly through concerted efforts with other States to convene an intergovernmental summit to revise the Treaties, which has as objectives, among others, the immediate revocation of the Budgetary Treaty and the repeal of the Treaty of Lisbon. Also required is an emergency plan to support the countries intervened by the troika, providing financial resources and the necessary derogations in implementing the single market and common policies.

At this time when we present PCP’s Electoral Programme - "Patriotic and Left-Wing Policy -Solutions for a Portugal with a Future" - it is time to once again, reaffirm that the elections for the Assembly of the Republic are not only the time to judge four years of policies of exploitation and impoverishment concertized between PS, PSD and CDS-PP and the foreign troika. It is also the time and opportunity to stop and reverse the disturbing course of nearly four decades of policy that has weakened, fragilised and led to the impoverishment and decline of the Country, to defeat the projects being announced, their continuation and enhancement, but above all the time to give strength to the PCP and to CDU, to give strength to build a patriotic and left-wing political alternative. The time to lay down in the near future of the Country a prospect of development and progress that belies those who, with their policies, want to condemn it to dependence and underdevelopment. We do not accept that the future of Portugal has to be that of a poor country with an impoverished people. The time to solve the national problems and ensure decent living conditions for workers and the people.

With its intervention and heritage of struggle, the PCP presents itself as the great force indispensable to govern the Country, with solutions for national problems and a distinctive project and in rupture with the policy which, for nearly four decades, PSD, CDS and PS have implemented.

A party that presents itself before the Portuguese people as the great force of the defence of sovereignty and national independence, widely foresaw, prevented and presented alternatives, the consequences for the country of the options and guidelines of right-wing policies embodied in the process of privatization and liberalization, reconstitution of the domination of monopoly capital, of European capitalist integration, joining the EEC, the euro, the Budgetary Treaty. The Party of unity and democratic convergence, of truth and political seriousness, which assumes and presents a path, recognised by all, of respect for the given word; the great force that fights against right-wing policies, which has a recognized intervention in the struggle in defence of the workers and the people; the great force of alternative policy identified with the aspirations of the workers and the Portuguese people; the great force that guarantees that the support and votes entrusted to it will not be used to serve agreements with the PSD and CDS-PP or to pursue a right-wing policy.

Bearer of a unique heritage in Portuguese society, of commitment to convergence and unity of all democrats and patriots who aspire to progressive changes in Portuguese society, the PCP will assume its responsibilities in finding spaces and paths that congregate wills, release energy and foster the activities of all those men, women and youth engaged in materialising a patriotic and left policy -wing policy.

It is in the PCP, it is in CDU that lies a firmer and more solid guarantee to defeat the right-wing policy and not just the government that today implements it. But above all, the most solid guarantee of construction of an alternative, of a patriotic and left-wing path, able to solve the problems of the Country, the workers and the people.