Speech by João Oliveira, Membro of the Political Commission of the Central Committee, XXI Congress of the PCP

The intervention of the PCP in the new phase of the national political life

The intervention of the PCP in the new phase of the national political life

The past four years have confirmed that, in the 20th Congress, we characterized with rigor and accuracy the new phase of the national political life and the conditions of our intervention in this context.

We were right when, in the 20th Congress, we pinpointed the importance of having fought to politically and socially isolate the PSD / CDS Government, of having used our forces to remove them from the Government and interrupt their destructive action and the policy of aggravating exploitation and impoverishment.

We rightly asserted that a possibility had opened up to defend, restore and conquer rights and that it was necessary to take advantage of it.
We rightly forewarned that, despite the PCP’s decisive influence in the context of that balance of forces, the Government was a minority PS government. It was guided by the PS’s class options and commitments to the right-wing policy, and therefore the scale of what could be achieved was essentially dependent on the struggle, as well as on the PCP’s intervention and initiative.

We stressed that the repetition of false ideas of a left-wing government and left-wing majority that never existed, did not change the reality of a minority PS government, although conditioned by the existing balance of forces.

We warned about the need to combat illusions regarding the PS’s options, a spirit and attitude of wait-and-see and expectation that stemmed from the false idea that the Assembly of the Republic and the Government would solve the problems and respond to the workers' yearnings, without the need to fight for them.

Our characterization of the national political life’s new phase was confirmed by reality.

And, no matter how many the attempts to falsify this fact, the restoration of rights that were considered to have been permanently lost and the conquest of others that were thought impossible to achieve, will go down in history.

The improvement of workers’ and people’s living conditions will stay in history, as a thorn on the side of Capital, as will the fact that this was due to the PCP’s influence, action and initiative.

We are not afraid or hesitant to assume our decisive contribution to all that was achieved during that period, because we did so convinced that this was the option that best served the workers’ and people’s interests, and because it was in fact a time of advances, contrasting with decades of regressive measures.

The struggle that we waged, and continue waging, for new advances and achievements is part of the struggle for the patriotic, left-wing alternative, and summons the workers and the people to mobilize for this objective.

This struggle demanded and demands the exposure, that we will continue to make, of the PS's class options, its commitments to the right-wing policy and the lack of response to the country's structural problems.

What this struggle signifies is that the PCP and its strength really count towards finding a solution and actually solving national problems.

Throughout those four years between 2015 and 2019, we tirelessly underlined the need for a new balance of forces, that would be more favourable to the workers and the people, with a stronger PCP, so that new achievements and more progressive goals could be achieved. We warned of the dangers of PS finding itself free to implement the policies that it wants.

Once again, reality has proved us right.

The political framework that resulted from the 2019 legislative elections put an end to the new phase of the national political life and left PS more free to fulfil its right-wing policy options.

The scale of the economic and social impacts of the epidemic has exposed the weaknesses of a country that has been plagued by decades of right-wing politics. They also highlighted the PS's view of the political framework in which it now governs.

Faced with the impact of the epidemic, the PS Government left workers at the mercy of lay-offs and wage cuts, left micro, small and medium sized companies without support and entire economic sectors on the verge of ruin, while maintaining public services understaffed and with a dearth of investment and without the capacity to respond to the needs of theirs users and populations. It took no steps to stop the action of economic groups that took advantage of the epidemic to aggravate exploitation, liquidate rights, plunder public services and accumulate fabulous profits from the business of disease.

Having secured in advance PSD's approval of the Supplementary Budget that enshrined these options, the PS Government did not want to accept either the PCP’s criticism or proposals. Considering what best corresponded to the defence of its commitment to the workers and the people, the PCP voted against this supplementary budget.

Four months later, in a context of greater concern in the face of the worsening epidemic situation and the accelerated deterioration of the economic and social situation, the problem arose again.

Starting with a budget proposal for 2021 that did not give the needed global response to national problems, the PCP allowed its detailed discussion to take place and confronted the PS Government with concrete proposals and solutions.

Following the approval of some of the PCP’s proposals, the budget includes a significant increase of funds earmarked to reinforce the National Health System, to hire health professionals, to invest in hospital equipment and to recover delays in [medical] appointments, to reinforce the intensive care and public health teams; to include the payment of wages in full and the extension of the unemployment benefit to 6 months; to guarantee risk subsidies for the workers of all essential services under the responsibility of the State; to provide Micro, Small and Medium Sized Companies with access to assistance in paying wages and making them exempt from payments on account [early payment of taxes]. It provides support for artistic and cultural work so that this activity is resumed in adequate health safety conditions; it provides for the hiring of 5000 school assistants and technicians and 2500 security forces and security service professionals; it extended the entitlement to a 10 euro increase in pensions and ensured that they will be paid starting January. And we continue to fight for an increase in the National Minimum Wage, beyond the amount that the Government had already committed to, for the repeal of the grievous norms in the labour legislation and to move towards a general increase in wages, including for Public Administration.

Once again, acting with full freedom and independence, PCP marked its position in this Budget by distancing itself from the Government’s options, but without throwing away what the struggle of the workers and the intervention of the PCP allowed to achieve.

We underline: acting with total freedom and independence, in accordance with our criteria and objectives. We underline this aspect, because there are many who want to limit and condition the freedom and independence of the PCP's decisions.

Some, seeking that have PCP serve as an instrument in their strategy to resume, even more strongly, the policy of exploitation and impoverishment that was interrupted in 2015.

Others, seeking to condition PCP in denouncing the right-wing policy options that compromise the country's future.

We live in a time marked by the incapacity of social democracy to ensure the necessary response to the problems and anxieties of the workers and the people. A time of increased indignation, discontent and revolt that are a hotbed for instrumentalization by PSD, CDS and other reactionary forces for their anti- democratic projects.

This is a time of action and struggle, with all its complexities and contradictions, that makes even clearer the need to fight for the patriotic and left-wing alternative and strengthen the PCP's action, intervention and influence, as a decisive contribution towards that goal.

We will not play or perform any tune written by capital and its reactionary representatives nor will we be the first violin of an orchestra conducted by social democrats.

We will continue being the Communist party that we have always been, firm in its commitment to the workers and the people, free and independent in the choice of path it decides to undertake, determined in its permanent goal of building socialism and communism in Portugal.

Long live the 21st Congress
Long live JCP
Long live the Portuguese Communist Party

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  • XXI Congresso
XXI Congresso