Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, Presentation of the CDU’s first candidate to European Parliament election 2019

«A stronger CDU to build now the future of Portugal and its people!»

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Cordial greetings to all those present, to all the components of the CDU,s democratic and unitary vision [CDU = Democratic Unitary Coalition] – specifically “The Greens” environmentalist party, and the many independent individuals who honour us with their participation and contribution. And a very special greeting to João Ferreira, whom we are now introducing as the first candidate on the CDU slate for the upcoming European Parliament election on 26 May.

Given his prior performance, his acknowleged experience and abilities, his dedication and involvement in the cause of supporting the interests of our people and nation, as well as the mutual solidarity among peoples and in their struggles, the choice of João Ferreira is the one that is assuredly capable. Together with all the components of CDU, and the other candidates, he will wage this electoral battle and ensure – as part of fruitful collective work in the European Parliament – the continuity of action, outstanding participation, and make a difference in standing up for the national interest, and for our people’s sovereign right to decide their own future, with an alternative future for Portugal and for Europe.

Our work and consistent action – together with a constant presence all over Portugal, with close ties with working people and local communities – is clearly present in the hard and valuable work in the European Parliament. Our work there is different from that of other political forces – not just because of our core political views and of the interests for which we stand – but also because this work includes the concerns and aspirations of working people and local communities. It provides institutional backing for people’s struggles and addresses the nation’s problems and needs.

It was our MEPs that exposed the fierce onslaughts that were being perpetrated against workers’ rights, the salary cuts, and the destruction of public services. It was out MEPs that stood for jobs with rights, and against delocalisions. It was our representatives in the European Parliament that fought against the sanctions, whose victims are always the common people. It was our MEPs that tabled the proposal to renegotiate the public debt of the most endebted Euro countries, and who took the initiative and tabled in the EP the proposal to create a support programme for the countries intervened by the troika. It was they who took up the protection of agriculture and of the rural world, with several proposals: reinstatement of milk quotas, special aid to the areas ravaged by fires or storms, protection of our seas and national fisheries with proposals to invest in fisheries and provide support for biological reserves.

It was our MEPs that stood up for aid to ultraperipheral regions: the Azores and Madeira islands. It was our MEPs that fought: against the liberalisation of transportation (the rail package and the single European skies), and for support to the modernisation of public transportation; for the protection of public Social Security for all, and against the proposals that prepared their privatisation; for more maternity rights; for the reinstatement of the number of MEPs to be elected by Portugal – and many other issues.

Our participarion provides visibility to all these issues. It was meaningful in both raising issues and making proposals. It is no exageration to say that our participation is the only one that truly stands for national interests – both in fighting against decisions that harm Portugal’s interests, and in demanding or attempting to make use of all resources, means and opportunities that can benefit our people and our country. And also when we propose initiatives that seek to minimise the negative constraints and consequences wrought by capitalist European integration.

Given our past participation and our work, we can address Portugal’s people with a clean slate, and engage in the electoral battle with confidence – confidence about our work both there, in the European Parliament, and here, at home. We have the confidence of being the bearers of a true alternative, one that serves workers, our people and the nation. That is the alternative that also opposes and breaks with the right-wing policies – that serve the corporations and are submissive to the directorate of big european powers, that have made the decisions and all of their decisions have favoured the transnational corporations and gone against the interests of all the peoples.

Today we are taking the first step in a very important electoral battle. Firstly, because of the meaningfulness of the election of MEPs that stand for the interests of Portugal, and of our people, and who are bearers of a project of sovereign development for our country.

Yes, more MEPs elected by CDU will mean more guarantees in the protection of national interests, and greater ability to continue the valuable work done until now.

But this election battle is even more important at a time when we know that new threats are being hatched against peoples’ interests and against national interests – such as the EU’s capitalist integration process with aditional encroachment against sovereignty. These threats must be held back and reversed.

It is important also because it makes it possible to contribute, with a stronger CDU, to push for the implementation of a true alternative both in Portugal and in Europe.

This EP election is the first of three elections that will be held in 2019. They all add up, and they can add up positively by boosting CDU – and thus help build the new alternative direction that Portugal needs, to be able to cope with many of its problems. Currently, these problems’ solutions are constantly being postponed.

All of these can add up to more CDU, and to its ability to take new steps in changing the balance of forces in Portuguese society, and contribute to the need for a Europe that will favour its workers and peoples.

They can all add up to help create new advances in working peoples’ living conditions, and in Portugal’s sovereign development – an accumulation of forces that can serve true change, where all votes and all those elected can contribute – both there [EP] and here [Portugal] – side-by-side with the decisive struggle of workers and the people.

Yes, the more votes and the more MPs elected by CDU in the 2019 elections, the stronger the struggle for alternative policies in Portugal – the patriotic and left-wing policies for which we strive and which Portugal needs – the stronger will be the need for a government that can implement them. And the stronger will be the need for a Europe of workers and peoples!

The new stage in Portugal’s politics [since 2015] has revealed the potential of a new way forward. It has shown a way forward that needs to be strengthened – and it received a decisive contribution from the PCP and the forces that comprise the CDU. Events have shown – and are showing – how important it is to strengthen the CDU, to take Portugal forward and to improve the lives of Portugal’s people.

The reinstatement and raise of salaries and pensions, the improved social rights and the reinstatement of social protection measures, the reduced taxes on labour, the lowered cost of energy and transportation, the new gains in education and culture – have all made it possible to have more growth and employment. All of these measures and gains would not exist today were it not for the initiatives and proposals advanced by the PCP, and also by the PEV [Green party] – that is, the forces of CDU.

This backdrop has shown – and is showing – the advantages of having a stronger CDU. Portugal’s people know how they have benefitted from our initiatives, and from the progress and development that this step forward provided.

And we haven’t moved further ahead because of major constraints and contradictions that paralise things and make it impossible to address problems. These contradictions are part and parcel of the choices made by the PS [Socialist Party] and its minority governments – with its sumission to big capital, to the European Union, and to the Euro’s constrictive criteria. All this is reinforced by the PS’s growing convergence with the [right-wing] PSD and CDS parties to ensure [the contituation of] right-wing policies in key issues and areas of government action.

The only reason we have not gone further is that the CDU is not yet strong enough to be able to implement alternative policies.

That is why Portugal does not yet have the response needed to solve its structural problems. Portugal could – and can – advance more if CDU is strengthened.

Portugal needs to make choices!

As concerns its development, Portugal cannot continue to postpone solutions to its problems while waiting for illusory solutions dictated from abroad, as the the successive PS, CDS and CDS governments have always done.

These solutions have never materialised, and will never do so. The PS and its government continue to believe in them, with the groundless excuse that it is possible to solve these problems without touching the current Euro-based constraints or the European Union’s current policies and line of action.

This is a false pretense. It has been upheld and applied by previous governments, and the consequences have been negative: Portugal has retreated, both economic and socially all through the years of this 21st century.

This is a false thesis, that ignores the fundamental and structural problems that plague Portugal in the spheres of production, energy, science, food, and demographics, among others. These are problems that have not been and are not being solved.

If there have been some steps forward, it has not been due to the virtues of their line of action, but rather as the result of the policy of recovery of incomes and rights, imposed by the struggle that has [since 2015] led to a more favourable balance of forces for Portugal’s workers and people.

It is to maintain these old policies and constraints that there is still resistance, and illegitimately usurped rights have not been reinstated, and degraded labour rights and low salaries continue to exist, and that pressing issues, such as health care, education, culture, housing and transportation, are still being postponed.

Portugal can no longer keep waiting!

Portugal cannot continue to wait for a flexible Euro – a false solution that never was, that was never expected to be, and that never will be. On the contrary, what is on the cards is a stricter Euro – as part of a new leap toward a more neoliberal, militaristic and federalist Europan Union.

While we wait for the announced and much touted financial easing toward convergence and cohesion for Portugal, what Portugal is really always getting is a tightening screw that continually compresses, oppresses, and reduces our sovereign decision-making powers, and thus generates a greater economic and social divergence [in the EU].

If we continue waiting for EU funds, that will just reinforce the richer countries’ financial capabilities, and expand the gap, to the detriment of those who, like Portugal, have been pushed into giving up local production and plunging into greater dependence.

We will be a country waiting for whatever the directory and Brussels decide – while the real world requires that we make our own choices, overcome the false dichtomies that are imposed by the dominant monetarism, whose goal is to justify our submission to others’ criteria and interests, and lock Portugal in the vicious circle of stagnation and endebtedness that has been with us for nearly two decades (with just the occasional peak of economic growth that always runs short of what is required and needed).

So yes, we do have to make choices!

These choices must serve Portugal’s workers, people and national interests. And that means breaking the constraints that make its development impossible.

It implies that Portugal be freed from its submission to the Euro, and from the EU’s impositions, that it renegotiate the public debt, and enact policies geared toward enhancing the value of labour and of workers, toward protecting and promoting national produce and the productive sector, toward establishing public control over strategic sectors, toward protecting and improving the administration of public services for the people and for the nation.

Portugal will not find solutions to the problems it is facing within the set of EU constraints – those are being tightened and expanded.
The solution to the nation’s problems – that have accumulated over the years of right-wing policies – will not be found by PS, or PSD, or CDS, as they are themselves the main culprits of Portugal’s plight.

The only thing that can be expected from PSD and CDS is social and economic retrogression, abolition of rights, plunder of salaries and incomes. From the PS what can be expected are same choices it has made, that have prevented a full response to Portugal’s problems in the past, and in the present too.

Portugal needs alternative policies: patriotic and left-wing policies. That requires a stronger CDU – starting now, in the European Parliament election!

Let there be no doubts, in the upcoming election Portugal’s people will, with their vote, be taking important decisions that will condition their future.

They will be choosing between either a return to the path that PS, PSD, and CDS have imposed over the last four decades – either impoverishment, retrogression and removal of rights and incomes, for the sake of interests that are alien to workers and to the people – or else stating that the chains that bind us to the past and to submission must be shattered, that the powers that exploit us must be confronted, and to empower the idea that Portugal can develop more, solve structural problems, and provide better living conditions for its people.

These elections are important for Portugal and for Europe: we will be confronting false dilemmas and ideological stunts. The real choice is not between either staying where we are – with unsolved problems and unfulfilled rights – or going back to the times of the troika, the PSD and the CDS. The real choice is not between either keeping an EU for the interests of the powerful and of militarism, or opening the road to reactionary forces and fascism.

No! The real choice is to have the confidence and willpower to go forward and empower a new patriotic and left-wing project of national development, the possibility of building another Europe: a Europe of workers and peoples.

We need to go foreward! It can be done|

The struggle can be taken further! It is possible to make gains and open up the road of progress and hope!

The issue that stands before us all is how can we go farther!

The answer is: CDU.

Strengthening the CDU will mean more power for all those who do not accept matters as they are, who fight for rights, for sovereignty and for democracy; for those who state that: Yes, a developed Portugal with social justice and sovereignty is possible.

Making the CDU stronger means building the future for Portugal and its people Now!