Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, Rally «PCP – Decisive force. By your side every day»

«What is required is to respond to problems and a demand for a better life!»

«What is required is to respond to problems and a demand for a better life!»

A warm greeting from our Party’s rally to the communists of the Évora district and, through you, to all the people of Évora, people of struggle and work, who wrote many of its noblest pages in our history.

Here we are, in Évora, city of April, a World Heritage Site, by the hand and work of elected members of the PCP and CDU, a city symbol of municipal management based on Work, Honesty and Competence, whose index of development and response to citizens' needs make us proud.

A management that has the interests of the citizens of this municipality as its main concern, its first priority, its most important focus of attention.

Here we are, following the local elections, with the strength that the people decided to give us, confirming the majority in the City Council, ready to place every vote, every elected official, every support for this objective, always ready to work with all those who assume the commitment to act in defence of the populations.

With the municipal elections over, with the end of the storm of the epidemic, and in a context in which, through the government, billions are being announced, we said that it was time to respond to the problems that challenge us every day and which the health situation made more visible.

And that is what we said when at the Avante! Festival we affirmed that, in the proposed State Budget that was at hand and beyond it, in the daily action of the government, clear signs of a response to these problems were needed.

That is for what we fought over the past few years.

It was with our decisive intervention that the PSD and CDS were removed from power and halted the disastrous course of national disaster, the theft of wages and rights, the cut in public services, the destruction of the productive apparatus.

It was with our decisive intervention that were restored, defended and achieved rights, many of which were far-reaching, such as the extra increase in pensions, free school textbooks, the increase, albeit insufficient, of the National Minimum Wage, the reduction or elimination of user fees in healthcare, the extension of the social pass in transport and the reduction of its price, the replacement of stolen holidays, just to name a few. There is no advance that does not bear the PCP’s stamp.

It was also with our decisive intervention that, in the face of the epidemic, wages were protected, social protection was guaranteed and many demands placed on the NHS were answered.

But we always warned that if we did not go further, it was due to the limitations and constraints from which the PS and its government did not want to free themselves. And we warned that, by not responding to structural problems, they would accumulate.

This is where we stand now.

Here, in Évora, we have an example that we can no longer keep silent.

Through our initiative, the construction of the new Central Hospital of Alentejo was successively approved in the State Budget, to replace the already very degraded and inadequate Espírito Santo Hospital.

Over these years, the government has dragged this situation, postponed the materialisation of this work and this has impacts on the response to the population and on the capacity to attract doctors and other professionals.

Now, and because we never gave up, with our decisive intervention, the work will finally begin. How many more years will go by without the citizens of this region getting the necessary answers?

The debate on the 2022 State Budget proposal ended yesterday. The proposal was not approved.

The spirit of the PCP's intervention in this debate had only one meaning: to seek to guarantee the responses and solutions that the country's situation and the problems it faces require.

When others sought to conceal the contents of the Budget and the government’s policy, with the threat of crisis and instability, it was the PCP that insisted on the debate on what matters, on wages and pensions that do not reach the end of the month, the rights that are stolen because of the sword of expiry of collective bargaining, the defence of the National Health Service, the rights of parents and children, the guarantee of the rights to housing, transport and mobility, the paths to greater fiscal justice , boosting economic activity, valorising national production as a strategic factor for the country's development.

There will be those who may legitimately question our vote against the government's proposal.

We are asked whether it would not be better to let this Budget pass to avoid a political crisis.

The central question that presided over our intervention was whether the government's options, in the Budget and beyond it, provide the answers that the country's problems require, or if, on the contrary, they will allow them to worsen.

And we asked what the increase in the National Minimum Wage that we proposed and defend has to do with the political crisis. In what ways can the repeal of the expiry of collective bargaining lead to a crisis? How can measures to defend the NHS and valorise the career and working conditions of doctors, nurses and other health professionals create a political crisis?

No, comrades. The PCP's proposals do not bring neither crisis nor instability. The proposals of the PCP correspond, indeed, to the aspirations of the people and the lack of response is what brings crisis and instability to everyone's home.

There are those who also question whether there is a danger of opening the door to the right.

Those who throw wide open the doors to the right, those who roll out the red carpet, are those who do not want to give answers to the problems facing the people.

What millions of Portuguese do not understand is why, with the means and conditions to do so, the government refuses answers and solutions to meet the demands of a better life.

What the Portuguese do not understand is why the overtime a worker makes is not paid at fair value, because the PS government does not want to affront the interests of capital.

The Portuguese do not understand that the hundreds of thousands of Public Administration workers, after more than ten years of losing the purchasing power of their wages, continue to not see it restored because the government gives priority to the deficit.

The Portuguese do not understand that when they go to the Healthcare Centre or Hospital, they are relegated to the waiting lists for their medical appointment, test or surgery, because the government insists on not retaining professionals and chooses to let flourish and fund the healthcare business of private groups.

The Portuguese do not understand that when they need to refuel, they see that the price keeps increasing, at the same speed of the increase of Galp oil company’s profits, which already amount to 327 million euros.

The Portuguese do not understand that the right to housing for thousands of families remains unguaranteed because they want to maintain the instability of the leases and prices are increasingly unaffordable, because the government refuses to change the rental law that facilitates evictions and makes precarious the right to have a roof.

The Portuguese do not understand that there are still thousands of students without teachers in many subjects and thousands of unemployed teachers without any class because the government does not invest in Public Schools, does not invest in binding teachers, does not provide schools with auxiliary and other necessary staff.

So, what is required is to respond to problems and the demand for a better life!

There are those who question if in this Budget we demand everything.

No. We have not even come close to the patriotic and left-wing policy that would provide the answer that the country needs.

What the PCP proposed to the government was not to give everything to everyone. It was to respond to the most pressing problems. When it is the government itself that says that resources are available like never before, we are the ones who question if this is not the time to respond to the problems.

That is why here we tell the government to stop making excuses, not to be tethered to the chains of big capital and to use the powers it has to take these measures.

Furthermore, there are several matters that do not even have any budgetary impact, or can even represent more revenue, such as the increase in the National Minimum Wage or the end of the expiry of collective bargaining. It is the government's class choices and its submission to the interests of big capital that prevent it from taking this step.

We did what was our part, we honoured the heritage of intervention and struggle in defence of the workers and our people. The country only does not have a budget because the PS did not want it.

It did not want to untie the country from the limitations and constraints of the European Union and the Euro, which serve as justification for preventing options to defend the national interest.

It did not want to affront the interests of big capital, which counts on support from the government to worsen exploitation.

It did not want to treat the increase in salaries as the national emergency that it is, and we did not even dig our heels on the fair proposal of 850 euros, admitting that it was set at 755 euros.

It did not want to defend the National Health Service from the brutal attack to which it is subjected by the economic groups of the traders of disease.

It did not want to guarantee everyone the right to a more decent life, with housing, transport and mobility.

We do not accept having a country condemned to decline, to moving away from European indicators, to the degradation of the living conditions of the workers and people.

We did not do it in the past, we would not accept it now. The country needs answers and these answers must be immediate.

We do not want elections, nor are they inevitable.

Because nothing forces the rejection of the State Budget to result in the need to dissolve the Assembly of the Republic and call elections.

Nothing prevents the government in office from responding to what it needs to respond at the earliest :

- fully execute what the State Budget for this year 2021 has set down and which is yet to be executed;

- decide on decisive matters that go beyond the Budget, whether in terms of wages, workers' rights, energy prices;

- nothing prevents the government from entering the year 2022 with system of management by twelfths. For those with short memories, it should be recalled that this was the case for three months in 2020, not to mention the even longer period in 2016.

And it can do it by responding to the problems. It is a matter of the government's will and choice.

Millions of Portuguese are wondering why we got here, why it was not possible to approve the Budget.

The future will tell but now we already see the tip of the veil lifted.

Yesterday, when closing the debate on the State Budget, the prime minister asked for a stable and lasting majority for the PS.

After all, what the PS wants is an absolute majority.

There is no Budget because the PS wants an absolute majority to, without hindrance, not respond to the country's problems and be able to freely maintain its commitments to the deficit and big capital to the detriment of what interests the workers and the people.

It shows that there is no Budget because the PS did not want it!

The government refused answers and solutions leading to the SB not being approved. As for the future, the government should draw lessons from the non-approval of the SB, if it has this sense of solving the problems, nothing prevents the government from presenting a new proposal for the SB and assuming the necessary commitments beyond it.

The Budget is not doomed to be rejected if it contains the answers the country needs.

If the PS and the government conclude that they want to continue to refuse what the country needs, then let them definitively draw their consequences from that.

If, meanwhile, the President of the Republic maintains its intention to call elections without the need to do so, if he decides to bring elements of instability, then he must assume this responsibility and draw the inevitable consequences from this, clearly and quickly.

Therefore, with the Budget vote over, stating that there are political solutions, within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic, which do not require the hasty holding of elections, if this continues to be the position of the President of the Republic, who announced and promoted them so much, then let them come quickly.

It would not be understandable that, after waving the spectre of instability and damage to the country, which means not having a Budget for months, he would now want to drag the process, to favour strategies that are foreign to the interests of the Portuguese people.

The PCP is not fighting for elections, it is fighting for solutions for the country. But we are not afraid of them and we have reasons to face them with confidence.

With the confidence of those who can present to the workers and the people a path of intervention that has always, but always, put their interests, rights and aspirations in the first place.

With the confidence of those who know that in the patriotic and left-wing policy we propose to the country are the answers that the country needs.

With the confidence of those who know that we have a party collective that does not shy from the struggle and that, in these days, is already mobilising in broad contact with the populations and that will commit itself, in a decisive manner, to the success of the already scheduled struggle actions, namely the national demonstration called by the CGTP-IN for the 20th of November, which we salute from here.

There are redoubled reasons for the struggle!

The life and the struggle continue for the improvement of the working and living conditions of our people, for the alternative policy that we defend with the concrete solutions that make it real.

We will continue on the right side of the struggle, alongside the workers and the people because it is to them and to the defence of their rights and interests, our first and main commitment.