Statement by the Central Committee of PCP, 26 January 2016

Statement by the Central Committee of PCP, 26 January 2016

The Central Committee of PCP met on January 26 to discuss the Presidential Election, to assess the political situation and to discuss the activities, strengthening and political initiatives of the Party.

I – On the outcome of the Presidential Election

1. The election of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as President of the Republic on January 24 represents a negative development in the country's current political circumstances and raises legitimate concerns. At a time when the possibility has been created of ensuring the return of workers' income, reinstating rights and reversing the trend towards impoverishment, it is essential to demand from the newly-elected President of the Republic that he respects the Constitution of the Republic and the other sovereign organs of the State.

2. Edgar Silva's campaign fought like any other to prevent the election of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. No other campaign stated so clearly that the Constitution of the Republic should be the key guiding principle to change the political course of the country with a view to ensuring the right of the Portuguese and of their country to development, progress and social justice. Edgar Silva's campaign was unequivocal in its commitment to, defence of, full compliance with and respect for the Constitution. No other campaign spelled out and committed itself so clearly to its political, economic, social and cultural principles and provisions. In particular, the campaign was unique in stressing and expressing its commitment to the rights, the worth of labour, the complementary nature of the various sectors of a mixed economy and the expression of the national interests, sovereignty and independence enshrined in the Constitution .

It was a left-wing and patriotic campaign that had no commitments whatsoever towards economic groups and financial capital and that could unambiguously, in an authoritative and coherent manner, reject the diktats coming from the European Union. The campaign embodied a project of freedom, democracy, social justice, development and sovereign rule. It was a campaign that without hesitation defined itself as the workers' campaign, a campaign inspired by and committed to the values of the 25 April 1974 revolution.The campaign of Edgar Silva confirmed the importance of PCP making its own voice heard in debates about the national political situation and the role of the President of the Republic in defending, enforcing and ensuring the enforcement of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.

3. The votes obtained by Edgar Silva's campaign (182 905 votes representing 3,95% of the total vote) do not accurately reflect the worth of its project, both with regard to the stated objective of this election, and with regard to the fact that it represented a coherent and unique approach aimed at promoting interventions and struggles now and in the future to change the course of the country's political life. It was a hardly-won result though, against the backdrop of unequal access to the media which promoted and favoured other campaigns and of appeals to populist and anti-democratic feelings .
In this election, the clearly-stated aim of defeating the candidate from PSD and CDS and of electing to the Presidency someone who would contribute to defend and enforce the Constitution was understood by many democrats and patriots as a need to vote for Sampaio da Nóvoa in the first round of the election, thus anticipating a situation that would only occur in the second round and reducing the vote in Edgar Silva's campaign.
Moreover, it should be noted that the idea that was insistently expressed that Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa would win the election either in the first or in the second round contributed to the decision by many thousands of voters not to turn up to vote.
The mobilisation and support generated by Edgar Silva's campaign will be a factor for the future development of the political intervention and struggle in a new phase of the country's political life.

4. The votes obtained by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa cannot be separated from a carefully-planned and systematic media operation that was extended till the eve of the election day; from the candidate's undeniable attempt at hiding his real views on key issues for the country's political life and the role of the President of the Republic; as well as from his false claim of being independent. As became clear, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was the candidate of PSD and CDS, two parties that hid from public view their support to and involvement in Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa's campaign. The small margin by which he was elected in the first round proves that a real possibility existed, as PCP had always claimed, of forcing a second round if all had been truly committed to that objective.

5. A major factor in the outcome of the Presidential Election was PS's decision not to field or support a candidate. This was reflected in the party's lack of commitment and involvement in the election campaign and in the emergence of conflicts between the campaigns of Maria de Belém and Sampaio da Nóvoa that were generally identified with PS.
Besides other candidates that adopted a populist tone, it is worth noting the option made by the campaign of Marisa Matias, supported by BE, which at several moments is time specifically targeted Edgar Silva's campaign, resorting to the lack of rigour and respect for the truth in its arguments and to the demagogic exploitation of topical issues.

6. This Presidential Election revealed the persistent nature of anti-democratic currents and their growth, as a result of the populist approach systematically adopted by various candidates, and was reflected in voting patterns as well as a low turnout. Trends emerged that de-valued popular participation in the campaigns, which are part of participatory democracy, and attempts were made at downsizing campaigns and limiting voters role, promoting acritical and passive attitudes, turning voters into mere spectators and receptacles of the dominant message. The anti-democratic pressure against the rolling-out of election campaigns, with the argument that costs had to be reduced, should also be noted. This had nothing to do with exaggerated expenses, which should be fought, but was an attempt that built upon the manipulation and silencing the media aimed at conditioning or preventing the flow on information and direct contacts which are the sole guarantee that those who are not favour by the media will be able to put across their electoral message.

7. The Central Committee of PCP values the role played by Edgar Silva in this demanding and important struggle and salutes all those who voted for him, the thousands of activists and supporters who built a campaign that was unparalleled in its direct contacts, mobilisation and efforts at clarifying the situation of the country and the role of the President of the Republic.

II – Intervention and struggle, a new phase in the country's political life

1. At the General Election of October 4, the workers, the population in general and youth defeated with their struggles and their vote the PSD/CDS Government. This defeat and the new correlation of forces in Parliament has made possible the attainment of concrete, albeit limited, objectives that resulted in the return of income, the reinstatement of rights that had been taken away and that have addressed the most immediate needs of workers and the people.

2. Throughout these first few months, despite the seriousness of the issues that the people and the country face and notwithstanding the limitations that derive from the political options of the PS Government – a Government that does not question constraints such as the public debt, the country's submission to the Euro or the sway that monopoly groups hold on national life – it was possible to put a stop to the concession and privatisation of road/rail public transport companies; to amend the invalidity scheme; to repeal measures that affected the dignity of teachers and to adopt new means of evaluation to improve learning and education outcomes; to reinstate womens' right to abortion without pressures or constraints; to reinstate the supplementary retirement pensions that had been take away from workers in State-owned companies; to protect family homes from seizure in tax enforcement procedures; to prepare legislation aimed at banning banks from unilaterally changing interest rates and clauses in contracts for the provision of electronic communication services; to reverse the decision to abolish holidays thus putting an end to four days of unpaid work. In all these developments PCP played a decisive role.

It was also possible, albeit in an insufficient manner and falling below what had been proposed by PCP, to reverse the wage cuts that had been imposed to civil servants and workers in State-owned companies; to ensure a reduction of the additional tax that had been imposed on top of the income tax, doing so in a gradual manner and abolishing it by 2017; to take steps aimed at establishing a 35-hours working week for all civil servants, regardless of their type of contract with the State; to increase the National Minimum Wage to 530 euros, although well below the 600 euros proposed by PCP.

3. The Central Committee of PCP, however, alerts that such advances and progress should not mask in depth options associated with right-wing policies and that led PS to continue processes -- which having in its origin the previous PSD/CDS government as the main responsible -- that collide with the national interest. As examples consider the "BANIF resolution" with handing over this bank to an foreign economic group costing billions of euros of public resources and the threat of handing over the New Bank to big capital and financial speculation; achieving the privatization of CP Carga (freight trains), a strategic company for the rail sector, the economy and national production; the concession of benefits regarding social security payments to big business, using as a counterpart the increase in the National Minimum Wage; the insufficient and unacceptable of the increase in the current levels of retirement plans and pensions that does not break with the path of impoverishment imposed over the last years to this sector of the population, by freezing their values.

These PS Government options, in addition to what they reveal regarding the constraints and limitations of the current political solution, give visibility to the need for an effective rupture with a right-wing policy and achieving a patriotic and left-wing policy that really responds to the need to elevate the living conditions of workers and the Portuguese people, the promotion of economic growth and development, the defense and affirmation of national sovereignty and independence.

​ At the time when the Draft State Budget for 2016 is being presented, PCP must call attention to the data and options present in the macro-economic predictions that structure the budget continued shackled to the constraints and conditions present in the policies of previous governments that, if not removed, can compromise the response to natural aspirations and expectation of the Portuguese people.

As reality demonstrates, without freeing the Country from its submission to foreign limitation it will not be possible to consolidate a policy of sustained growth and social development. Factors favorable to a foreign conjecture can ​give room to a response to more immediate questions and problems, can alleviate the asphyxiating situation its been subject to, but can not guarantee the development of the country.

The Central Committee of PCP underlines that in the context of a common examination of the proposal for the 2016 State Budget, whose presentation will be made in the beginning of February, its appreciation will be determined by what may be expressed regarding the agreement on matters in the "joint position of PS and PCP on a political solution" and the general inversion of the policy of decline, exploitation and impoverishment imposed over the last four years by the PSD/CDS government. It is with these objectives that PCP, conscious of the distance and indisguisable differences regarding the macro-economic premises, namely external constraints and conditions, will intervene actively and seriously to guarantee that the State Budget will contribute to achieving the rights and aspirations of workers and the people. The Central Committee of PCP alerts and denounces the operation of pressure and blackmail and that, from the European Union and national circuits associated with it, will aim to maintain intact the policies of exploitation, impoverishment and extortion of national resources, and reaffirms that the only and decided attitude to face it resides in its straightforward  rejection and the affirmation to of the right of Portugal to a sovereign development.

​ 4. The Central Committee of PCP considers that the future developments of the political situation, in particular the objective of defending, restoring and conquering rights, are and will be inseparable from the struggle and intervention of the Portuguese workers and people. The moment calls for broadening the struggle to potentiate the new conditions  ​to respond to the desires and aspirations of the Portuguese people. A struggle that will count not only on the solidarity and action of communists, but also a broad and combative political intervention to defend everything positive that can be achieved and fight measures and options that reveal to be negative to the people and the Country.

III - ​Reinforce ​the Party and immediate tasks

​ 1. The Central Committee of PCP highlights the action development by the organizations and militants of PCP and JCP, in the defense of the interests of the workers and people, in the development of their struggle and organization, in answering their immediate problems, in affirming the need for rupture with right-wing policies and the adoption of a patriotic and left-wing policy.​

​ 2. The Ce​ntral Committee of PCP highlights the importance of the development of the struggle to defend, restore and conquer rights, points to the need to strengthen the organizations and broad mass movements and appeals to the intervention and contribution of communists towards the success of the 13th Congress of CGTP-IN, on February 26-27th.

3. The Central Committee of PCP highlights the importance of pursuing the Party initiative at various levels, namely in Parliament, and decided the beginning of the national campaign on workers rights «More rights more future, no to precariousness», on February 18th, and the action with retired and pensioners on their rights and living conditions. It highlights the realization of initiatives integrated in the commemoration of March 8th, the International Woman's Day, March 34th, Student Day, March 28th, Youth Day, and 40th anniversary of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, and April 25th and May Day.

4. The Central Committee of PCP reaffirms the orientations already defined regarding the achievement of the specific action of reinforcing the Party, as part of the Resolution «More organization, more intervention, more influence - a stronger PCP», the program of initiatives celebrating the 85th anniversary of Avante! and the 95th anniversary of the Party, the end of the National Fund Campaign «More space, More Festival. A Future with April», until the next month of April and the preparation of the Avante! Festival, to be held on September 2,3 and 4, inserting these lines of work and Party activities within the preparatory work towards the 20th Congress of PCP, on December 2,3 and 4.