1.1 The crisis of capitalism
The international situation’ evolution is still, in essence, marked by the deepening structural crisis of capitalism; by imperialism’s exploitative and aggressive counter-offensive in the wake of socialism’s defeats in Eastern Europe and the disappearence of the USSR, seeking to regain the positions lost during the course of the 20th Century and to assert its hegemonic domination of the world; by the continued resistance and struggle of the workers and the peoples within a world balance of forces that is unfavourable to the Communist Parties and other anti-imperialist forces. In this context, there is an ongoing and complex process of realignment of forces on a global scale, which highlights the USA’s relative decline. The situation has generally worsened, particularly as regards the intensification of international tension, the advance of reactionary and fascistic forces and the danger of war.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the trends marking the international situation’s evolution and exposes even more sharply the deep and irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism and the structural crisis which plagues it, with expressions at various levels, namely economic, social, political, cultural and environmental.
The developments in the international situation confirm the exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature of capitalism and how it is incapable of responding to the problems confronting Humanity, for which it is responsible.
Within this general framework, characterized by great instability and uncertainty, the following traits can be highlighted:
- Accumulation of elements of economic stagnation and recession, particularly in the capitalist great powers, and the succession, at shorter intervals and with varying intensity, of peaks of crisis, in the context of the structural crisis, which are rooted in overaccumulation and overproduction, that are intrinsic to the capitalist system.
- Persistence and even intensification of the factors underlying the crisis that erupted in 2007-2008 and the recognized – including by sectors of the ruling class – inevitability of further, possibly even more serious, cyclical crises. The Covid-19 pandemic, which broke out in an already latent situation of crisis, is being harnessed to intensify exploitation and attack rights and freedoms.
- Increasing concentration and centralization of capital and wealth and worsening social inequality, a trend marked by a more unequal distribution of income between Labor and Capital, the drainage of public resources for speculative activities and for economic groups, especially for the finance sector, by a new impetus in the processes of privatization, mergers and acquisitions.
- A brutal intensification of the exploitation of workers with a violent attack by big capital on labor rights, trade union rights and working-class organizations.
- Attacks against social rights, particularly by calling into question public services and the State’s social functions, with privatization processes at the core.
- Deepening injustice and discrimination, particularly against youth, women and immigrants.
- The capitalist system’s difficulty in relaunching significant cycles of accumulation and in countering the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, driving a growing financialization of the economy, an overexploitation of workers and the development of new lines of capitalist reproduction and accumulation.
- Worsening environmental problems, the destruction of ecosystems and the predation of natural resources, which are inherent to the capitalist system, as well as their instrumentalization to subordinate labour and workers' rights, develop new business areas, impose greater concentration and centralization of capital and new privatizations and renewed forms of economic and geostrategic domination.
- A new qualitative leap in the scientific and technical revolution characterized by using machines for tasks that until now required abstract brain functions (artificial intelligence) and other developments, in particular in areas such as information and communication technologies, robotics, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, nanotechnology, genetic engineering or synthetic biology. A leap presented by the ideologues of capitalism as the solution to economic, social and environmental crises for which it is responsible and which they use as pretexts and blackmail on workers to impose unemployment, low wages and inequality, the liberalization of the labour force market.
- A good use of remarkable scientific and technical advances – which contain exceptional potential if used for the benefit of the workers and peoples – is constrained and even subverted by capitalist relations of production that seek to step up exploitation, maximize profit or develop new and powerful military weaponry.
- The affirmation of the role and power of multinational corporations of the so-called digital sector, mostly US-owned, which embodies enormous perils in the economic, social and media spheres, as well as for freedom, democracy and sovereignty, and contributes to increase the domination of economic power over political power, and of imperialism over the peoples.
- The growing domination by finance capital and the sharpening contradiction between the social character of production and the private appropriation of the means of production.
- The financialization of the economy, with growing endebtment and speculation, and the increasingly parasitic nature of the system. Tax havens, corruption and all sorts of criminal trafficking which are inherent to capitalism.
- The ever sharper contradictions between the great imperialist powers as a result of the system’s deepening crisis and, at the same time, their class collaboration against the workers and peoples, within the framework of imperialist rivalry-concertation relations. The insistence by the US on preserving its hegemony over the imperialist camp and, at the same time, dragging its allies into its escalation of confrontation and aggression on the world level.
In the USA, the hegemonic power of the capitalist world – with its enormous economic, scientific and technical, military and ideological potential – the problems, contradictions, inequalities and social conflicts are more intense and evident, together with visible cleavages within the ruling class, in particular as to how to counter the relative decline of the USA at the international level.
The Trump administration carried further the policy of favoring big capital, promoted an even more reactionary drift, encouraging far-right, racist and fascist forces, and stepped up the arms race and US imperialism’s policy of confrontation, interference and aggression.
Not underestimating the desire for change on the part of the people of the United States and differences that may occur as regards domestic policies, the election of Joe Biden as President will translate into the continuation of a foreign policy that reaffirms the goal of preserving the USA’s hegemonic domination in the world, with the inherent threat to the sovereignty and the rights of peoples, international security and peace.
With deepening contradictions and the crisis of the European Union (EU) – expressed by the United Kingdom’s departure and the divisions in the face of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – the European capitalist big powers, especially Germany, seek to assert the EU as an imperialist bloc under their rule, while aligning with the US strategy of siege of Russia and confrontation with China, considered as strategic adversaries.
Japan, which continues with anemic economic growth, is pursuing its militaristic policy, strengthening partnerships and agreements in this area, particularly with the USA.
The development of a complex world-wide process of realignment of forces has as dominant features: the relative decline of the capitalist center’s global influence, and first of all that of the USA; China’s economic and scientific-technical advances and international assertion; the role of States such as India and Russia or the importance, at the regional level, of other States such as South Africa, Brazil, Iran or Turkey.
A dangerous escalation of confrontation is being promoted by the USA against the People's Republic of China, which is inseparable from the growing weight and role of this country at the international level.
There are worsening problems in several countries, particularly in Africa, expressed in underdevelopment, dependence, neocolonialism, poverty, migration and refugee flows, or environmental problems and the predation of resources, realities that are being increasingly encouraged by imperialist interference and plunder, which seeks to pursue, in new ways, the exploitation and domination of these countries.
There is a multiplication of hotbeds of tension and actions of aggression promoted by imperialism, notably US imperialism, with the real danger of triggering conflicts of great proportions, including with a nuclear dimension.
There is a crisis and discredit of the liberal-bourgeois political system and the political parties that have alternated for decades in power (right/Christian democrats and social democracy), of the dominant neoliberal and supranational policies, of their institutions, as in the case of the European Union. The promotion of demagoguery and far-right forces as a means by which big capital tries to preserve its neoliberal dogmas, strengthen its instruments of domination and impose its goals of exploitation and oppression.
The offensive against social and cultural rights is articulated with the offensive against political rights, the growing attack on fundamental rights and freedoms, the intensification of the repression of popular struggles, the whitewashing and trivialization of fascism and the ‘normalization’ of the institutional role of fascist forces, the promotion and advancement of xenophobic, racist, far-right and fascist forces, along with the promotion of reactionary and anti-democratic conceptions, an obscurantist backlash, anti-Communism, including as a State policy, as in Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.
Displaying forces and capabilities that must in no way be underestimated, Capitalism seeks to counter its deepening structural crisis by using the economic, financial and political tools available and its military power and ideological influence – largely through the use of the mainstream mass media – sometimes managing to recover lost positions, as was the case in some Latin American countries.
However, the continuing and persistent struggle of the workers and the peoples, which in its diversity has registered expressions of great importance, confirms the widening discontentment with enhanced exploitation, social injustice and inequalities and with neocolonial oppression. [This struggle] undermines the social support base of capitalism, imposes setbacks and defeats on imperialism – as in the case of Syria or Venezuela or, more recently, Bolivia and Chile – and it may evolve into major social conflicts and, depending on the concrete conditions, progressive and revolutionary processes of transformation.
In a complex international situation, several countries have emerged with increasing economic and political weight and capacity for initiative in international relations. There are increasingly important bilateral relations and alliances, structures and spaces of cooperation and multilateral integration with very diversified goals and scopes. These are arenas which express convergences of differing nature, configuration and stability, with contradictions that result from different economic and political realities in the countries that integrate them, and with a direction of development that must continue to be assessed. Among them, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America - Peoples' Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), among other regional cooperation structures, or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS.
The evolution of the international situation confirms that there is great potential for the development of the struggle, but it also confirms that discontentment among the masses does not always and automatically lead to a consequent and organized struggle. It is sometimes straitjacketed, manipulated or recovered by the system itself, either through the role of right-wing forces and social democracy or by resorting to far-right forces or other provocative groups.
Mass actions have emerged focusing on various causes – such as those relating to women's rights, the fight against racism and xenophobia and the protection of the environment – which, while reflecting discontent with real problems, inequalities and discrimination that must be confronted and which are rooted in the capitalist system, have sometimes been exploited by the latter as a way of promoting division and concealing its responsibilities.
These are important causes that require active intervention in order to solve the underlying problems and become objectively part of a process of social transformation. These problems will only be fully overcome in the construction of a society freed from all forms of exploitation and oppression.
Recognizing the unsustainability of brutal inequalities and so as to divert the masses from a coherent struggle for social transformation, big capital and the forces that defend its interests try to change something so that everything will remain the same. They promote the idea that «one cannot live as before», criticizing certain aspects of neoliberalism to try to save Capitalism and speculating on a «new» Capitalism which they call «Green», «progressive», «at the service of all» or «democratic».
In the present circumstances, the evolution of information and communication tools takes on a redoubled importance in the ideological struggle, particularly when imperialism continues to dominate and control the main information centers and agencies, spreading anti-Communism and the falsification, bias and manipulation of information.
Despite the diversity of situations, the development of the objective material conditions for the revolutionary overcoming of capitalism does not match the current state of development of the subjective factor. The current situation is still, at the global level, one of resistance and accumulation of forces.
Capitalism’s deepening structural crisis and the international context confirm the importance of the PCP's thesis that «great dangers of social and civilizational regression coexist with real potential for progressive and revolutionary advances» and the need to be prepared for rapid and unforeseen developments and, therefore, for the use of forms of struggle that the development of the situation may demand.
1.2. Imperialism’s offensive
The world reality reflects the intensification of capitalism’s contradictions and its deepening structural crisis, with continued attacks against the rights of workers and peoples, democracy and sovereignty, as well as the intensification of imperialism's interference and aggression against the independence of States. Conflicts are becoming more widespread as a result of the increasingly militaristic drift of the US and its allies, notably the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The period since the 20th Congress is marked by imperialism’s violent and multifaceted offensive, with the most reactionary and aggressive sectors of imperialism increasingly betting on fascism and war as a «way out» of the crisis with which capitalism is struggling.
An offensive which, invoking the crisis itself, or using pretexts such as the pandemic, seeks to continue a thorough destruction of economic, social, political, cultural and national rights; to further change the balance of forces in favour of Capital; to intensify exploitation and to take control of, and plunder, resources; to deepen the undemocratic, reactionary and even fascistic nature of the political system and roll back the peoples’ consciousness regarding their legitimate rights and aspirations and alternative paths of development and emancipation.
Imperialism’s provocative, destabilizing and aggressive offensive targets, in particular, States and peoples that assert their sovereignty and right to development and regions of great concentration of natural resources, raw materials and energy routes, cheap labour and expanding markets, or that are of great importance from a geostrategic point of view. This offensive is accompanied by a diversification and deepening of attacks against labour and social rights, the looting of public resources, including the privatization of public services and social functions of the State and of strategic sectors of the economy.
The inhumane and criminal nature of Capitalism is on display with hundreds of millions of workers who are unemployed or have precarious jobs; with the denial of fundamental rights and the lack of response to the most basic needs; in poverty, hunger, malnutrition, the denial of access to healthcare and social security; in child labour, or slave labour or the dramas that affect millions of refugees or migrants; in the trafficking of human beings, the trade of human organs and the exploitation of human beings for sexual purposes.
NATO, under US hegemony despite contradictions that will tend to increase as the crisis becomes deeper, continues to assert itself as the most important and dangerous instrument of the aggressive imperialist offensive.
The struggle for peace, disarmament and, in particular, against NATO’s aggressions and for its dissolution, is of the utmost importance when Humanity is confronted with enormous threats such as the arms race; with the failure to comply with, and the unilateral withdrawal from, agreements on disarmament and the limitation of nuclear weapons; with disrespect for the principles of the United Nations’ Charter and of international law; with the proliferation of hotbeds of tension and instability; with the threats and wars of aggression. These are expressions of an escalating confrontation sponsored by the USA and its allies.
Imperialism’s offensive seeks to hinder and even prevent the exercise of States’ sovereignty and independence. The right of peoples to decide their own destiny is increasingly under attack. In this sense, the US, with the active or passive support of its allies, intensifies the imposition of blockades and sanctions, including of an extraterritorial nature, among other economic, financial, political, diplomatic or military measures, thereby violating international law. They promote the perversion and instrumentalisation of genuine expressions of popular discontent and carry out operations of interference and aggression under false cover, such as «humanitarian intervention», «defence of human rights and democracy» or «failed states». They instrumentalize corruption and other scourges that are intrinsic to capitalism and fuelled by it, in order to cover up so-called «regime change» operations. They resort to terrorism, either State terrorism or by groups that carry out criminal and terror actions. They institutionalize aid policies, under the cover of «solidarity» and «humanism», which foment underdevelopment and dependence, including through instruments such as numerous foundations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other structures linked to governments and multinationals.
In the pursuit of these goals, a key role is played by a variety of international institutions and forums, which seek to impose the rule of imperialism and which have unequal relations of power in their midst – among them, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the G7, the European Union and the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as, on a different level, the centers for strategic concertation and ideological production, such as the Trilateral Commission, the Davos Forum, or the Bilderberg conferences.
Together with the ongoing attempt by imperialism to instrumentalize the United Nations, there are increasingly numerous instances - due to increasing difficulties in imposing their policies - of devaluation and abandonment by the United States of United Nations agencies and bodies, and even calling into question the functioning of other international organizations - such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) – whose principles they themselves dictated.
The process of reconfiguring States includes a growing attack on freedom and democratic rights. Imperialism and the political forces and institutions at its service multiply actions aimed at rolling back the democratic advances achieved by the struggle of the workers and peoples and at perverting the concept of democracy, distorting and molding it to its interests and goals, by attempting to contain, suppress and criminalize the struggle of workers and the social struggle as a whole; by the State’s greater role in the repression of resistance and the restriction and persecution of trade union and political activities and organization, in particular by limiting or prohibiting the right to demonstrate and strike; by the political persecution and illegalization of Communist parties and other revolutionary and progressive forces; by promoting and institutionalizing anti-Communism; by plotting and executing coups d'État in countries pursuing sovereign progressive and democratic courses; by imposing governments that do not respect the popular will; by ever more widespread interference and blackmail against peoples; by the increasing tendency to militarize domestic security matters; by ever greater control and violation of the private lives of citizens, including through ever greater use of surveillance technologies.
The policies that intensify exploitation, impoverishment, precariousness, unemployment, oppression - namely national oppression - and the stigmatization of immigrants, create fertile ground for the spread of the xenophobic and racist ideology of far-right forces and fascistic groups which, proclaiming themselves as «against the system», are used in reality by the system itself to try and impose its anti-democratic goals and projects.
Imperialism steps up the ideological offensive by trying to conceal the exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature of capitalism. It promotes factors of class division, projects fear, conformism, individualism, the inevitability of impoverishment, the withdrawal of rights and social regression, the impossibility of fundamental change to the capitalist system presented as [the] ultimate [system], the «need» for submission to the interests of big Capital and the great powers. Openly reactionary, racist and xenophobic views are encouraged, obscurantism is promoted, philantropy and charity are institutionalized. Educational systems increasingly take on the role of tools for ideological formatting, the commodification of knowledge and of training.
Belying the theses about «digital democracy» and a «free access to knowledge and information», the global web of multinational communication corporations is today one of the main underpinnings of imperialism’s ideological offensive. By stressing private appropriation and the instrumentalization of the extraordinary scientific-technical achievements, imperialism increasingly manipulates, centralizes, perverts and dominates information and communication technologies (ICT). But, as in other areas of social life, the «world» of ICT, and in particular of the so-called «social networks», is the arena of an intense ideological struggle in which it is important to participate, despite the disproportion of means available and the just concerns about the manipulation and censorship to which these networks are subject.
The obvious threats that hang over the workers and peoples makes it increasingly necessary for the forces of peace and social progress to converge, both in each country and at the international level, in the anti-imperialist struggle, in the struggle for peace, freedom, sovereignty and social progress.
1.3. The struggle of the workers and the peoples
The international situation’s evolution, laden with serious and dangerous developments, highlights that the resistance of the workers and peoples against imperialism’s exploitative and oppressive offensive continues, with potential to develop the struggle for progressive and revolutionary transformations. This resistance and struggle - which takes place under the most varied conditions, adopting different forms and striving for diverse concrete and short-term goals - is of great importance and must be valued.
All over the world, even in the most difficult conditions, the workers and the peoples resist and fight: for the right to work and other labour rights, for trade union rights, for social rights; against all forms of exploitation and discrimination; in defense of women's rights; to defend and ensure public services such as healthcare, education, and welfare, as well as other social functions of the State; for the right to retirement and for pensions that ensure dignity; against privatizations and for public control of strategic sectors; for the right to water; for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources; for the right to housing; for the right to land and for food sovereignty and security; in defense of democratic freedoms, rights and guarantees, against anti-Communism, against repression, against fascism; in defence of sovereignty and national independence, for democracy, against the blackmails and supra-national impositions dictated by the interests of big Capital and the great powers, against free trade and services agreements; against war and for peace; for the liberation from oppression, including national oppression; for justice and social progress; for democratic, antimonopoly and anti-imperialist transformations; for Socialism. These are the resistance and struggles that, flowing into the struggle against imperialism, are interconnected within a common liberating ideal and world process.
As a result of the imperialist offensive, the class struggle is sharpened and the social support base of Capitalism is objectively narrowed. In this context, it is particularly important for the struggle of the working class and working people to converge with the struggle of other classes and social strata and the peoples’ struggle in defense of social, economic and national rights, broadening and diversifying the forces that objectively converge in the resistance to imperialism. The international situation’s evolution highlights the importance of the national issue and its interconnection with the class issue, confirming the national framework as the determining field of struggle and the exercise and assertion of national sovereignty as a condition for defending and winning rights, to promote economic and social development, to advance the processes of transformation.
Initiatives seeking to create structured dynamics or organic forms of an international scope lead, as reality has already shown, to devaluing the diversity of national realities and can – instead of promoting arenas of broad unity – disperse forces and create difficulties for the necessary convergence in the struggle around concrete objectives.
In a framework that is still of resistance and accumulation of forces at the world level, situations of retreat coexist with advances by progressive and revolutionary forces and of the workers’ and peoples’ struggle in defense of their rights and sovereignty.
Despite important situations of resistance and progress that cannot be underestimated, the PCP considers that the international Communist and revolutionary movement has not yet been able to recover from the harsh retreat suffered with the defeats of socialism in Eastern Europe and the disappearance of the Soviet Union.
Bearing in mind the existence of diversified situations in each country, the great challenge confronting the Communists and other revolutionary forces in global terms is to develop the subjective factor, starting with the strengthening of the Communist and revolutionary Parties.
Reality shows the need for a strong and vigorous international Communist and revolutionary movement, which can express the existence of strong organized Communist and revolutionary Parties, rooted in the working class and the popular masses, linked to their national realities, with strong political, ideological and social influence, with their class independence and ideology, their Communist identity and revolutionary project, their internationalist cooperation and solidarity. Whatever the conditions, their role is irreplaceable both for the resistance and struggle of the workers and peoples in defense of their rights and sovereignty and for the advancement of social transformation and the revolutionary overcoming of capitalism.
For the PCP, patriotism - and the struggle in defense of national sovereignty and independence, which are fundamental requirements for the fight against imperialism – and internationalism – in a broad and diverse anti-imperialist dimension, but having at its core proletarian internationalism and the relations between Communist parties – are inseparable and are fundamental components of the Communist identity.
While strengthening the unity, co-operation and solidarity of the world Communist and revolutionary movement is an essential task, the PCP considers that the fulfillment of a Communist Party’s national task in its own country is, not just its very raison d’être, as its major contribution towards strengthening the world Communist and revolutionary movement and advancing the world-wide struggle for social and national emancipation. The national task is the first internationalist task of a Communist Party, a priority when assigning its forces. It requires determination and persistence to overcome weaknesses, difficulties and obstacles, bearing in mind the struggle for concrete and immediate objectives as a basic and essential factor of resistance and to advance the struggle for progressive and revolutionary transformations and for Socialism.
In this sense, and taking into account the experience of the international Communist and revolutionary movement, the PCP based the elaboration of its Programme on Portugal’s concrete reality, on the definition of the current stage of the Portuguese revolution and on the corresponding policy of social alliances and their expression at the political level.
Faced with the violent political and ideological offensive of the ruling class – in which, among other aspects, anti-Communism, the persecution and banning of Communist parties and other democratic forces, and gigantic operations of falsification of History and reality are rampant – and with the prospect of a harsh and prolonged phase of resistance and accumulation of forces, side by side with situations of solid analyses and firm and steadfast stances and activity, there are also liquidationist and social-democratizing views and attitudes of adaptation to the system, with the abandonment of the ideological references, organizational principles and revolutionary project which characterise a Communist Party; or the development of dogmatic and sectarian views and attitudes, which display impatience and «leaps forward», that seek to impose single models of social transformation, the seizure of power by the working class as an immediate universal task, and initiatives aimed at an organizational centralization and the political and ideological homogenization of the Communist movement.
The PCP considers that such tendencies hinder the strengthening of the international Communist and revolutionary movement and introduce factors of misunderstanding and division that delay the necessary advances in cooperation and solidarity and in the relationship with other progressive and anti-imperialist forces and particularly in developing unity in action against the common enemy.
The problem lies not so much in the existence of differences of opinion or even divergences – which are all the more natural in view of the complexity of the international situation and the diversity of national realities – but in methods of action that do not follow tested principles of relationship, such as equal rights, respect for differences, autonomy of decision-making, non-interference in internal affairs, frankness and mutual solidarity.
Persistent action is needed to overcome factors of distancing between Communist Parties, through greater mutual acquaintance and understanding, a fraternal discussion of natural differences of opinion and divergences and of common problems, the approximation of political and ideological positions, valuing what unites, contributing towards cooperation, mutual solidarity, unity in action – goals that can only be achieved based on what must be a common will and effort.
Giving particular attention to developing bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation, the PCP values multilateral forms of cooperation and joint and convergent action, seeking unity in action.
The International Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties (IMCWP), whilst not exhausting bilateral or multilateral relations between Communist Parties, are a space for exchange of opinions, debate, adoption of common or convergent positions and actions, and should contribute to this objective. It is an unstructured process of multilateral cooperation, but which has, despite shortcomings, enabled better mutual acquaintance, to deal with many aspects of the international situation and to seek guidelines for common or convergent action in the struggle against big Capital and in solidarity with the peoples fighting against imperialist interference and aggression.
At the European level, the PCP aims at bringing closer together the Communist Parties, and these with other progressive forces, putting at the forefront the issues most felt by the workers and peoples and the struggle for a Europe of cooperation between sovereign States, equal in rights, and for social progress and peace.
Reality confirms that the Party of the European Left – a reformist and supranational structure that is part of the EU's dynamic – has introduced new factors of division and misunderstanding, hindering progress in the cooperation between Communist and progressive forces in the struggle for a Europe of the workers and peoples.
The PCP has been active in ensuring the continuity of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) in the European Parliament, preserving its confederal nature, the respect for the political independence of its components, its own identity and independence from other areas of cooperation or structures, its affirmation as an alternative voice to the right and to social democracy.
The structural crisis of capitalism and the violent imperialist offensive raise the need to strengthen the anti-imperialist and internationalist solidarity, thus contributing to develop the liaison, co-operation and unity in action of patriotic, progressive and revolutionary forces, in a broad anti-imperialist front, which may halt imperialism’s offensive and open the path towards a new international order, of peace, sovereignty and social progress.
In this sense, international organizations such as the World Peace Council (WPC), the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), or the International Federation of Resistance Fighters (FIR) have an important role, requiring the rejection of lines of decharacterization that contradict their anti-imperialist nature and the defense of their broad-based nature.
Confronted with imperialism’s aggressive offensive, spearheaded by the USA and its allies, which represent the most serious threat that the workers and peoples face, it is essential to ensure, in the context of very different situations, the confluence of:
- countries which, led by Communist parties, affirm the goal of building socialism;
- countries that, led by progressive forces, assume the defense of national sovereignty and independence and choose paths of development and social progress;
- countries which, led by diversified forces, contribute, even with contradictory elements, to objectively confront imperialism's intents;
- the Communist parties and other revolutionary parties;
- the class trade union movements and organizations, which fight in defense of workers' rights and interests;
- the progressive and patriotic forces, which assume the defense of their peoples’ interests;
- the movement for peace and solidarity and other mass movements with different expressions and objectives, that are part of progressive, non-divisionist or disaggregating dynamics.
The world Communist and revolutionary movement has a special responsibility in building social and political alliances that can contain and push back the most reactionary and aggressive sectors of imperialism, defeat the attempts of hegemonic domination by US imperialism and its allies.
This underlines the need for convergence, to strengthen the ties of solidarity and co-operation of Communist parties and other revolutionary forces – asserting their own goals and without any dilution of their identity - with other peace-loving, patriotic, democratic, progressive, anti-imperialist forces, thereby contributing to unity in action to attain immediate goals of struggle, that may help to defend the sovereignty and rights of the peoples.
Solidarity and cooperation which do not mean, require, or are conditioned by, a total identification between the forces that resist and fight, but which put at the forefront the defense of principles and goals, in particular the sovereignty and rights of peoples, which in turn advance the struggle for their social and national emancipation.
1.4. Socialism, a demand for the present and the future
Capitalism is not the final system of human History. Its revolutionary overcoming and the construction of a new society without exploiters or exploited are a demand of the present and for the future, which is increasingly relevant in the workers’ and peoples’ struggle.
Socialism is a necessity of our times. The extraordinary degree of concentration and centralization of capital, the worsening social inequalities and scourges, the ever more intense irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism, which cannot respond to the problems and aspirations of Humanity despite the extraordinary potential of scientific-technical development – all this contributes to the maturation of objective material conditions for the development of revolutionary processes that aim at Socialism, regardless of the phases, stages and forms they will take, in accordance with each country’s specific situation.
The historical process of replacing the Capitalist with the Socialist economic-social formation is not automatic:
- it requires the struggle for concrete and immediate goals, the struggle for the demands of workers, the struggle of the peoples in defense of their rights and aspirations, the struggle in defense of freedom and more profound democracy in its fundamental aspects - economic, social, political and cultural -, the assertion of national sovereignty and independence, struggles that are not only not contradictory but are part of the struggle for the more global and strategic objective of building socialism;
- it requires a policy of alliances of the working class with other anti-monopoly classes and social strata, according to the tasks of each of the phases and stages of the process of social transformation;
- it requires the creative intervention and organization of the working class and all working people, the popular masses, as protagonists of the process of social transformation;
- it requires as an essential condition the existence of a vanguard revolutionary force capable of, in each country, leading the struggle for the workers to seize power;
- it requires the creative application of Marxism-Leninism, a materialist and dialectical view of the world, an instrument of analysis and guide to action, essential in interpreting the world and for its revolutionary transformation.
The October Revolution, with its profound transformations and extraordinary historical achievements and its global impact that continues to this day, was a historical experience of universal significance and ushered in a new epoch in the history of mankind, the epoch of the transition from Capitalism to Socialism.
Systematic anti-Communist campaigns, aimed at denigrating what the construction of socialism in the USSR and in other countries was, and what it represented, cannot conceal the extraordinary political, economic, social, cultural and scientific achievements and its role as a powerful factor for progress and world peace.
The decisive contribution of the USSR to the victory over Nazi-fascism, whose 75th anniversary is marked in 2020, was an expression that cannot be erased of socialism’s superiority and of its decisive contribution for the great revolutionary achievements of the 20th Century.
The disappearance of the USSR and the defeats of socialism in Eastern Europe do not counter the need and the possibility of building a new society without exploiters or exploited. On the contrary, these are confirmed by the cruel reality in which millions of human beings are living and the increasingly dangerous international situation arising from the nature of Capitalism and the action of imperialism.
Capitalism, its deepening structural crisis, its nature, the threats and dangers it poses to Humanity, its ever sharper contradictions and the development of the struggle of workers and peoples, make their social and national emancipation more relevant and objectively necessary.
The historical experience of struggle - in its multiple aspects and teachings, both in the advances and successes as in the mistakes and defeats – has revealed just how extraordinarily complex, uneven, and difficult is the process of the workers’ and peoples’ social emancipation. It also shows that the paths of the revolution - while being diverse and following phases and stages that are different from country to country - obey general laws, which practice has confirmed. Laws regarding the role of the working class, workers’ power, the nature of the State, the social property of the fundamental means of production, planning and, above all, the creative intervention of the popular masses.
Taking into consideration the experience of the world Communist and revolutionary movement and the experiences of building Socialism, it is based on the concrete Portuguese reality and our experience as Portuguese Communists that the PCP indicates the way to Socialism and the fundamental characteristics of the Socialist society in Portugal. Its fundamental lines - inseparable from the particularities that mark the history of the Portuguese people, the social reality and the international context for our country – are defined in the PCP’s Programme «An Advanced Democracy - The values of April in the Future of Portugal».
2.1. Right-wing policies and the country's situation
The counter-revolutionary process with decades of right-wing policies, capitalist integration in the European Economic Community/European Union (EEC/EU), monetary integration in the Euro, implementation of the Stability Pact, carried out by PS, PSD and CDS, has led to the degradation of the productive fabric, to the dramatic increase in the country's economic dependence, to its increasing indebtedness, jeopardising national sovereignty and independence.
As a result of this policy, with its class content at the service of monopolist and large landowner restoration and contrary to the national interest, with the growing dominance of foreign capital, the country became more dependent and vulnerable, more exposed to structural deficits, in the fields of technology, energy, demography, food.
These policies did not solve, rather worsened, the main national problems, revealing the nature and contradictions of capitalism and its structural crisis, which drove the country into a prolonged crisis, with increased exploitation of the workers, with a strong social setback, with impacts on political participation, cultural life, the environment and on the democratic regime itself.
This course was worsened by the Stability and Growth Programmes (SGP) and the Pact of Aggression, signed by PS, PSD and CDS with the European Commission, the ECB [European Central Bank] and the IMF, and by the action of the PSD/CDS government, which was curbed in the legislature that began in 2015, when, due to the workers' struggle and the decisive action of the PCP, wages and rights - key factors for economic and employment growth - were restored, defended and achieved.
This path that did not go further, due to the PS's option and commitments to keep Portugal subjected to the guidelines of imperialism and the European Union (EU) and tied to the interests of big capital, limiting and preventing the necessary response to problems. Breaking with the right-wing policy is inseparable from denouncing the PS’s policy options, as well as from the confrontation with the whitewashing strategy of the PSD and CDS and the reactionary offensive that seeks to find space for their anti-democratic projects.
2.2. The European Union
Portugal's integration within the EEC/EU – spearheaded by PS, PSD and CDS, in permanent conflict with the achievements of the April Revolution and the Portuguese Constitution – is an integral part of the process to restore monopoly capitalism and its structures of domination in Portuguese society.
Subjected to the constraints and impositions of the EU, and in particular of the Euro, Portugal has not overcome structural dependence, deficits, problems and inequalities, even in a less adverse reality such as that of recent years. Any policy of social justice, of raising wages, affirming rights, improving living conditions and asserting sovereignty, inevitably faces the constraints arising from the EU and the Euro.
The evolution of the EU is marked by growing inequalities and developmental asymmetries, by an accelerated concentration and centralization of capital, and by increased exploitation and social regression, which have once again been exposed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EU is a structure shaped by big capital’s interests and needs in the imperialist phase of capitalist development. It is directed and conceived as an instrument and area of domination of monopolies and transnational corporations, oriented towards the concentration of power in the main capitalist powers of Europe – particularly Germany – and in supranational institutions dominated by these powers and, at the same time, aligned with US imperialism.
In recent years, the process of capitalist integration has deepened, generating growing contradictions, tensions and rivalries. The deep crisis in, and of, the EU is in itself an expression of the structural crisis of capitalism. Its developments may reflect upon the future of the Euro Zone / Economic and Monetary Union and of the EU itself.
The UK's exit from the EU – despite attempts to reverse the expressed will of the British people and campaigns promoting the impossibility or chaos given the decision to dissociate from the EU – is a strong upset to the theories of irreversibility of capitalist integration in Europe. Inseparable from the contradictions and rivalries inherent to the capitalist nature of the EU, it is simultaneously a reflection of popular discontent with the EU.
The negotiations and successive impasses in the preparation of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 (MFF 2021-2027) reveal deep fractures and contradictions running through the EU, and demonstrate that capitalist competition in the single market prevails over any prospect of solidarity and cooperation between States that, in practice, has been confirmed as non-existent.
The so-called Recovery Fund – in a significantly reduced version compared to initial sums, particularly regarding the “subsidies” component – brings forward and reduces future revenues and increases the loan component, generating even more debt, which is particularly harmful for countries such as Portugal that are already deeply indebted.
The deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the Single Market and the increasing concentration and centralisation of Capital are leading to a growing concentration and centralisation of supranational political power with renewed attacks on democracy and sovereignty. Falsely invoking a fight against the far-right and «nationalisms» – but in reality targeting legitimate national feelings, interests and resistance to the class and national oppression associated with the EU – attempts are being made to institutionalize mechanisms of political and ideological control and interference and to impose a single mindset dictated by EU institutions.
The Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the Euro serve the goal of intensifying exploitation and economic dominance, intensify the diverging dynamics intrinsic to capitalist integration, accentuate the transfer of income from labour to capital, and fuel the levelling down of wages and working and living standards in Europe.
The «response» to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic confirms that the EU is not an arena of cooperation and solidarity, nor is the Euro a «protective shield».
The reform of the EMU has made the Euro an even greater constraint and potentially more devastating for sovereign development projects. The Euro traps countries like Portugal, depriving them of sovereign economic and monetary policy instruments. Low interest rates or the liquidity provided by the ECB do not translate into more investment and a more dynamic domestic market. The ECB's debt purchase programmes, exclusively on the secondary market, with the intermediation of financial markets, do not prevent speculative attacks on sovereign debt or the squandering of national resources. The increase in public debt during the pandemic creates additional obstacles to State financing and public investment.
Once again, the EU's response to a new crisis is to further capitalist integration and its neoliberal, militarist and federalist pillars, in particular with new transfers of powers from the States to the EU institutions, dominated by the great powers.
The Fiscal Compact, Economic Governance, the European Semester, the multiple constraints on using structural and investment funds, the imposition of the Banking Union, the institution of the Capital Markets Union, and the consolidation and expansion of the single market, form a web of constraints, namely economic and budgetary constraints, that increasingly subjugate countries like Portugal, benefit the main capitalist powers, and reinforce big capital’s domination.
The process of EU interference in the sovereign powers of States continues. By imposing so-called «structural reforms», the EU tries to intervene directly on matters such as taxation, wages, labour legislation or social policies.
The Banking Union is confirmed as a powerful means to concentrate the banking sector, in particular the transfer of its ownership to European transnational monopoly financial groups. The centralisation of banking supervision and resolution at the ECB, removing this sovereign competence from the States, aims to safeguard the interests of finance capital. The Banking Union has institutionalised and centralised instruments whose main objective is to channel public funds to private banking and to concentrate this sector.
The «European Green Deal» seeks to exploit real problems and just environmental concerns in order to ensure new conditions for capitalist accumulation by transnational economic groups of the so-called «green economy», through environmental commodification; to open the door for new taxes on the peoples; and boost the liberalization of the European energy market.
The deepening and extension of the single market to new areas – digital, energy, aviation, transport and telecommunications – focusing on strategic sectors, namely the so-called «natural monopolies» and public services, is aimed at accelerating privatization and liberalization processes that favour monopoly concentration and target the sovereignty of countries such as Portugal.
The deepening of the process of capitalist integration is accompanied by vast operations of propaganda and whitewashing of the EU, by either window dressing or a false fight against the extreme right, associated with the promotion of anti-Communism and the whitewashing of fascism and its crimes, or by the insistence on the fallacious concepts of «European citizenship» or «European values».
«Free competition» in the domestic market, promptly disproven by the enormous disproportion in economic and investment capacity between States, destroys extractive sectors and especially manufacturing industry in countries with lower productivity, pushing them towards low wages and low-tech production, and contributes to block their development.
Successive reviews of the Common Agricultural Policy, in line with the interests of large agribusiness, have deepened liberalisation, with the destruction of almost all public instruments regulating the supply and protection of national production, accelerating the concentration of production, and attacking small and medium-sized agriculture. The reduction of the CAP budget, together with the conclusion of free trade agreements, would mean a further liquidation of large sectors of national production.
The Common Fisheries Policy, with its successive reforms aimed at liberalising and dismantling public regulatory instruments, is inseparable from the decline of the sector, the ageing and dismantlement of the fleet, the loss of jobs, the loss of income for fishermen and increasing restrictions on fishing.
The EU's trade policy, based on free and unregulated trade, aims to ensure that the major European powers and economic groups have new markets, with access to scarce raw materials, and expand their zones of influence. The free trade agreements with Canada (CETA) and Japan are particularly serious.
The deeply asymmetric impact on States of decades of EU common policies confirms the need to recover national sovereignty in areas such as industry, agriculture, fisheries or trade.
The EU asserts its nature as an imperialist military-political bloc. Despite circumstantial distancings and rivalries, particularly with the US, the militarization of the EU continues in conjunction with NATO, and it proclaims itself as NATO's European Pillar.
The Common Foreign and Security Policy and, in particular, the Common European Security and Defence Policy are dictated by the economic interests of the monopolies and great powers. Present in virtually all scenarios of destabilisation and military intervention, the EU strengthens its direct and indirect funding of military industry and research and maintains its project of creating a «European army».
The so-called «development aid» and association agreements are used in its economic and political expansion policy, with renewed focus on the EU's recolonizing offensive in Africa, its resources and markets.
Portugal's submission to the priorities and guidelines of the European Union's «foreign policy» is a serious obstacle to the necessary diversification of its international relations and a more intense cooperation – including economic cooperation between Portugal and other nations.
The European External Action Service tends to devalue, override and erase the diplomatic representation and action of some States, imposing a common orientation and the concept of a «single voice» in relations with third countries and in international forums.
EU policy in the context of migration and refugee movements, for example by criminally tolerating the loss of thousands of lives in the Mediterranean or by financing the erection of walls and barriers to prevent their entry into Europe - namely as a result of imperialism's actions - has deepened its exploitative, xenophobic and inhumane character, assimilating concepts and practices advocated by the far right.
The pillars on which the EU is based constitute an immovable political and ideological matrix. There is no room for a «refoundation» or «democratisation» that calls into question its class nature and direction.
The most recent evolution of the situation in the EU belies the thesis of the irrelevance and relative decline of the nation-state and the role of national sovereignty, as well as confirms the class nature of the State and the role of EU supranational institutions as instruments at the service of monopoly groups and great powers.
For Portugal, and for a wide array of countries, real solutions to problems can only be sought by affirming national sovereignty and rejecting the constraints imposed by the European Union.
PCP advocates the construction of a Europe of cooperation between sovereign States and equal in rights, of social progress and peace. A true project of cooperation for Europe requires democratic and progressive breaks at the national level and with impact at the European level, that allow the construction of a new political and institutional framework of cooperation between States for effective social and economic development, peace, friendship and solidarity, paving the way for a Europe of the workers and peoples.
Such an aim requires the defeat of the process of capitalist integration by developing the struggle of the workers and peoples, increasing their political consciousness regarding the neo-liberal, federalist and militaristic nature of the European Union; by asserting a State's sovereign right to development and rejecting EU impositions; by changing the political and institutional balance of forces in EU States and their co-operation in rejecting that structure's impositions and directives; and through cooperation between progressive and left-wing forces, particularly Communists, based on breaking with the European process of capitalist integration.
PCP has deep confidence in the struggle of workers and peoples and reaffirms the inalienable right of the Portuguese people to decide their own destiny and their right to sovereign development. A right that no integration, however advanced its state of development, can expropriate.
Breaking with the impositions and constraints of the European Union and the struggle to defend national sovereignty and independence are central elements to build, in Portugal, a patriotic and left-wing political alternative.
2.3. The economic, social, cultural and political situation
Portugal is a country facing serious economic and social problems and with large structural deficits that are the source of strong foreign dependence. Cut off from important - such as monetary - instruments of sovereignty, the country faces a public debt that consumes a not insignificant part of its resources. Most strategic companies and sectors are now dominated by foreign big capital. This situation coexists with low wages, retirement benefits and pensions, in a context of worsening exploitation and the impoverishment of vast strata of workers, with growing precariousness in labour relations and persistently high levels of unemployment.
In this reality, profound social injustices grow and the profits and privileges of a few contrast with deepening social inequalities. The scale of poverty is on the rise due to the worsening social situation resulting from the epidemic. Problems of enormous social sensitivity emerge and become more acute, namely in access to housing, daycare centres or the needs of the elderly and people with disabilities.
Portugal continues to register a low birth rate that does not ensure the replacement of generations, a situation that results in particular from the economic and social problems that affect and penalise mainly workers and their families, preventing their free decision regarding the time and number of children they want to have.
Public services, lacking thousands of workers, have been weakened.
Public investment is clearly insufficient to replace wear and tear on equipment and infrastructure or to solve decades-old problems, as was highlighted by the dramatic [forest] fires of 2017 and 2018.
The reality is that means are denied to guarantee the rights of the workers and people, but benefits and privileges are guaranteed to big capital, namely through support to private banking, Public Private Partnerships, massive tax benefits or other direct support.
In the economic field, there continues to be an insufficient pace of growth and weakness of the productive apparatus, as a result of joining the Euro and of EU impositions, of capital transfers and flight, and of an ever greater domination of the economy by foreign capital, financialization and lack of public and productive investment.
The country's strong dependence and structural weakness leave the national economy more exposed to the high degree of uncertainty in the external economic environment.
Great territorial imbalances persist, and we witness environmental degradation and an increasing commodification of Nature and water.
Ideologically, we stress the brutal onslaught carried out by big capital, which includes the concentration of media ownership, the promotion of reactionary values and ideas, the re-writing and falsification of history, of fascism and of the 25th of April.
Other important features of the Portuguese reality are the cultural losses, namely of the Portuguese language, and displays of cultural elitism, with the growing difficulties that cultural agents must face; the degradation and subversion of the democratic regime enshrined in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and the attempt to destroy the social functions and the State apparatus that should support them; the persistance of high levels of corruption and the plunder of public assets, with an intense promiscuity between the public and private sectors; the growing subordination of political power to economic power and of democracy and national sovereignty to the decisions and impositions of the European Union; and a foreign and defence policy marked by a position of yielding and submitting to the US and NATO.
This reality is the direct result of the right-wing policy, promoted by PS, PSD and CDS, together or separately, at the service of the class interests of the big domestic capital, in association with, or dependent and submitted to, foreign capital.
The Covid-19 epidemic has made this reality even more blatant, exacerbated by the ideological operation that big capital has unleashed aimed at squashing wages and rights, transforming labour relations into an authentic law of the jungle, transferring to the workers and the public exchequer the burden of this situation, trying to limit protests and the struggle.
The country's economic and social situation has deteriorated brutally in the final months of 2020. The impacts of the epidemic, its manipulation by big capital and the lack of a necessary response by the PS government, associated with the country's structural weaknesses, converge in a scenario of a sharp drop in GDP, a significant worsening of the public debt, a deteriorating social situation with increased exploitation and poverty, greater foreign dependence and further concentration and centralization of capital.
This situation has resulted in tens of thousands of dismissals, wage cuts for hundreds of thousands of workers or even the loss of livelihoods for thousands of others, many of them self-employed or in an informal situation, the arbitrary imposition of working times and worse working conditions, the destruction of the activity of thousands of micro, small and medium-sized companies and the bankruptcy of small producers.
2.4. The new phase of national political life
The four years - 2015 to 2019 - which corresponded to the “new phase of national political life” were not in vain, both in their relation to the previous legislature and to the four previous decades of an unchanged trajectory of right-wing policies. During this period, dogmas (such as the thesis that the only possible policy would be that of impoverishment and ever-greater exploitation) crumbled; theses and arguments repeatedly underlined by the PCP (namely regarding the purpose of legislative elections which elect MPs and not Prime Ministers) were confirmed; lessons were learnt that have become part of the legacy of struggle and intervention.
The path of defending, restoring and winning new rights that marked the new phase of national political life was only made possible by the PCP’s initiative and decisive intervention, after the political and electoral defeat of the PSD/CDS government and the political and institutional outcome of the 2015 elections, with a view to stopping its destructive action and opening up new prospects. This situation did not mean the formation of a left-wing government, but rather the coming into office of a minority PS government, with its own programme. It did not mean the existence of a left-wing majority in the Assembly of the Republic [Parliament], but the existence of a balance of forces in which PSD and CDS-PP were in the minority, and in which, at the same time, the parliamentary groups of the PCP and PEV (The Ecologist Party “The Greens”) conditioned decisions and were decisive and indispensable to defend, restore and achieve rights and incomes. The PCP was not a force supporting the government with a parliamentary agreement that never existed, but rather, having contributed to ensure that the government came into office, the PCP preserved full political freedom and independence, guiding its action according to the interests of the workers and people.
This period confirmed the PCP’s decisive intervention, proposals and solutions, its determination to not squander any opportunity to defend, restore and conquer rights. This period highlighted the irreplaceable role of the workers’ and people’s struggle which, however difficult and prolonged it may be - as was that which took place between 2011 and 2015 - eventually dictates the course of events. This period revealed that, contrary to what was in store, improving living conditions, extending rights, raising wages and pensions, increasing household disposable income, are all conditions for economic growth and wealth and job creation.
This period also showed that - as the PCP always said - despite the importance of responding to more urgent problems, the solutions and policy that the country needs, to overcome its structural deficits and ensure sovereign development, cannot be found with the shackles of the class options of the PS and its government.
The assessment of this period of political life requires that its complexity and contradictions be taken into account. First and foremost, in order to draw lessons and experience from it, for future intervention and struggle, rejecting both the simplifications and distortions regarding what it represented, its scope and meaning, its limitations and shortcomings.
The assessment of this phase of the national political life begins with the conjuncture in which it emerged; with the assumed recognition of its limitations, dispelling illusions regarding what it could represent. Wrong assessments were made, from two different angles: one which, due to the overassessment of what was achieved, viewed it as the answer to the country’s problems and as a political and institutional solution at the expense of asserting an alternative policy; and one which, underestimating conditions that made some advances possible, denied any response other than an immediate break, totally disparaging the regression that was prevented and what was achieved in the defence, restoration and achievement of rights and the improvement of living standards.
This phase of the national political life cannot be measured solely by its advances and achievements, but also by what was interrupted and prevented, both in terms of previously announced measures attacking rights, expropriating wages and income or alienating strategic companies and sectors, and in terms of projects of political, electoral and Constitutional subversion long sought by the protagonists of right-wing policies. During this period, steps were taken, with the intervention of the PCP and the workers' struggle, to defend, restore and achieve rights. Worth mentioning are, among others: the restoration of wages and other stolen rights, such as holidays, pension supplements for workers in the State Entrepreneurial Sector; the increase in the national minimum wage, even if short of what is necessary; the restoration of collective bargaining instruments in the Public Entrepreneurial Sector and the elimination of restrictions on hiring workers in Local Administration; the reversal of the privatisations of Carris [Lisbon bus company], Metropolitano de Lisboa [Lisbon Underground] and STCP [Porto transport company] and, even if only partially, of [the national airliner] TAP; the significant reduction in the price of public transport and the expansion of multi-transport social passes; the reversal of cuts in pensions and their extra increase during four consecutive years (the last of which is now in the 2020 State Budget); the full restoration of the law on the voluntary termination of pregnancy; the increase in child benefits, the extension of pre-natal care benefits and support for people with disabilities; expanding protection for the unemployed, creating support for the long-term unemployed and eliminating the cut in unemployment benefits; restoring the right to the full payment of the Christmas allowance; the valorisation of long careers with discounts and the improvement of conditions for access to pensions of mines and quarry workers; in Public Administration, the restoration and extension of the 35-hour working week and the right to career advancement, with the respective pay, as well as measures to fight precariousness; a reduction in tuition fees and strengthening the components of Educational Social Action; free textbooks during the 12 years of compulsory education; the reduction of healthcare user fees, the hiring of more doctors and nurses, the reduction of costs with medicines, the inclusion of new vaccines in the National Vaccination Plan; free access to museums, on Sundays and holidays, and the resumption of programmes to value them; more support for the arts and artistic creation, the reduction of VAT on shows and musical instruments; the creation, in the Peniche Fortress [former political prison], of the National Museum of Resistance and Freedom; the mitigation of the Income Tax on income from labour, namely for the lowest and middle incomes, with the reduction of rates and the creation of two new income brackets and the extension of the minimum subsistence [bracket], as well as the elimination of the surcharge; the reduction in the price of energy; the reduction of VAT on catering and the elimination of the Special Pre-payment [of taxes] by the self-employed; the re-institutionalization of Casa do Douro [wine cooperative]; the replacement of Common Land rights; the guarantee of support for family farming, the reduction of fuel costs for farmers and fishermen; the cut in benefits for real estate funds, the taxation of higher value real estate assets with the introduction of the Real Estate Municipal Tax (IMI) surcharge and the increase in taxation on large profits through the increase in the Corporate Tax.
It is true that more was not achieved because the PS continued to be bound to class options that limited the scope and extent of the response that would be required. In several matters, the PS not only rejected proposals that would solve important problems as it sought - whether by non-compliance, by the retention of funds that had been earmarked, by cuts in investments and others devices - to delay implementing measures and to ensure that the budgetary criteria determined by its submission to the impositions of the European Union prevailed. Despite the shortcomings and contradictions of several State budgets, the government not only did not take advantage of the possibilities that they contained, but disrespected and did not fulfil the positive aspects that integrated them. It was because the PS so chose, that policies that have been present in decades of right-wing policy were maintained, such as the negative labour legislation (which was even worsened at the end of the legislature) and the non-recovery by the State of strategic sectors and companies.
What was achieved, although limited in scope, had concrete significance for the lives of the Portuguese people. Pitting the interests of the PCP against those of the workers and the people, separating what is inseparable, betting on the idea that extreme hardship and an unbearable degradation of the living standards of the masses would foment revolutionary awareness, can only lead, not to further mobilization and struggles, but rather to giving up, to opportunism and radicalisation.
The struggle of the workers and the people and the PCP’s activity managed to defeat and remove the PSD/CDS government from office, prevent the materialisation of their projects and achieve real advances in defending, restoring and achieving rights.
Valuing what was achieved - even if limited - with the PCP’s intervention and the workers' struggle, after years of intense struggle in which the immediate perception of its results was not visible, is of particular importance. Despite the government’s attempts to appropriate the positive measures which it not only did not defend, but even opposed for as long as it could, [what was achieved] is of particular importance in raising the awareness that the struggle is decisive, that fighting is worthwhile, revealing once again that nothing is handed out and everything must be won, that the mass struggle and the Party’s intervention, with adequate guidelines, determination and persistence, makes possible what many think is impossible.
The period of national political life between 2015 and 2019 therefore has to be assessed by what it actually represented and not by what some would like it to be. Mystifications sought to establish and encourage a false perception, either to whitewash the PS’s policy and action and its class nature, or to see in a conjunctural balance of forces, a structural basis that has never existed at all.
2.5. The action of the PS government
The period that elapsed since the 20th Congress witnessed two legislatures [Parliaments] that, despite having in common the existence of minority PS governments, have, in the current legislature a significant difference resulting from the changed balance of forces in the Assembly of the Republic after the 2019 elections. The PS has since then been freer to give unconditional expression to its right-wing policy options.
In both situations, the PS was true to the options that characterise it. It was the balance of forces that emerged from the 2015 elections that conditioned those options and the priorities that mark its commitment to right-wing policies, and enabled the path of defending, restoring and achieving rights that characterised the first of those legislatures.
What changed was not the PS and its class nature, but the circumstances. In fact, as was evident and the PCP always warned, the PS did not drop key right-wing policy options that, having been present in its governance and in the structural limitations that shaped it, namely in the State Budget proposals, blocked the necessary response to national problems.
The commitment to cut the deficit and an unsustainable public debt prevented the mobilization of resources for a truly sovereign development. The country did not invest, did not bolster public services, did not boost production or recover productive capacity.
The PS government maintained its class commitments to monopoly capital, ensuring conditions, through its labour legislation, to heighten exploitation, for precarious employment relations and to deregulate working hours. During this period, it kept the interests associated with PPPs untouched. It did not revert to State control strategic companies like CTT [postal services]. It gave in to the interests of multinationals like Vinci, depriving the country of the airport infrastructure it needs. It continued to hand billions of euros to banks, as the scandalous case of Novo Banco reveals.
The scale of the country’s problems, enhanced and highlighted by the current situation, requires a policy that breaks with the right-wing policy that for decades has created and accumulated those problems. The acuity, extent and severity of the economic and social problems that broke out, in connection with the epidemic, continues to require urgent measures and solutions that provide more immediate answers to problems that the workers and the people face.
But, above all, what the country’s situation requires is to pave the way for a different policy, ensuring conditions for its sovereign development, vigorously increasing public investment, overcoming the main structural deficits, valuing workers’ wages and rights, raising the living standards of the people.
The necessary response to national problems is not compatible with the options that have been expressed in the different Programmes and Plans presented by the government, which are essentially dependent on EU options and EU funds. The vision and options that they portray do not include the necessary valorisation of the workers, their wages and rights. They preserve all neoliberal instruments. They completely ignore the constraints imposed by the absence of monetary sovereignty and by a public debt that consumes much needed public resources. They view the State as a facilitator and funder of economic groups. They ignore the domination of strategic companies and sectors by foreign capital.
The country's development requires sovereign options, which are not dependent on the criteria and decisions of third parties. It needs its own agenda that views national problems without restrictions or constraints, namely in the use of EU funds.
It is to be expected that this conditioning associated with EU decisions will endure, namely those related to European funds, preventing them from being placed at the service of the workers and the people and the development of the country and integrated into a strategy of sovereign development.
The country is faced with a scale of economic and social problems that requires choices as to how to solve them. Projects are emerging that aim not to respond to the problems but rather, taking advantage of the current situation and using it as a pretext, seek to create the conditions to intensify exploitation and injustice.
The path that the PS and its government are building with the PSD, and which includes the President of the Republic, had in the 2020 Supplementary Budget, in the adoption of the new rules of the Assembly of the Republic or in the amendments to the Budget Framework Law, the confirmation that what prevails is a convergence between these two parties on key issues.
The process of realignment of forces that the most reactionary sectors promote to fully recover the conditions for the development of the right-wing policy requires denouncing the options of the PS and its government and combating and confronting the reactionary projects that PSD and CDS, and their political surrogates - Iniciativa Liberal and Chega- have underway. And it demands, at the same time, a clear path of breaking with the right-wing policy and asserting and materialising an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy, indispensable for economic development and social progress.
2.6. The economic situation
Economic growth between 2016 and 2019 not only did not overcome problems that had accumulated over decades of right-wing policies and capitalist integration, as it did not prepare the country to confront a new upheaval.
The causes of the cyclical crisis unleashed in 2007-2008 remain, and the tensions and contradictions arising from the structural crisis of capitalism have even intensified.
The Covid-19 epidemic has only exposed and highlighted the Portuguese economy’s problems and bottlenecks, its deficits and structural dependence.
These are the features that mark Portugal’s economic reality: high indebtedness and external deficits; high level of public and foreign debt; low levels of public and private investment, short of what is needed to preserve infrastructure and equipment; persistently large deficits in production, energy, technology, capital and an increasing demographic deficit; weakness of the economic fabric, with low productivity, growing domination by monopoly and foreign capital, the decapitalisation of companies; the destruction and huge syphoning abroad of capital; the loss of national control of strategic sectors, areas and companies; structurally high unemployment, wage devaluation and precarious employment relationships, the drain of qualified labour that goes abroad; restrictions on access to essential public services; territorial imbalances and regional disorganisation and disarray; environmental degradation and increasing commodification of nature and water; the degradation of the State apparatus; corruption and the plunder of public assets, public-private promiscuity, the subordination of political power to economic power and of democracy and national sovereignty to the decisions and impositions of the European Union and the great powers.
The Euro, which is an instrument at the service of the great powers and of the concentration and centralisation of capital, has meant divestment and productive degradation, loss of competitiveness and external indebtedness, stagnation and recession, social and economic divergence.
Portugal needs a currency suited to its economic potential, wages, productivity and productive profile. It needs autonomous and sovereign monetary, financial, exchange rate and budgetary management to foster production, employment and growth. It needs to have a true national central bank to support its development project, freeing itself from the blackmail of financial markets for its funding and the political conditionality of EU and IMF loans. Public and external debts, their sizes and the cost of their service, have absorbed national resources and limited the country's economic growth. Both these debts resulted from the degradation of the productive apparatus and national production and from the resulting trade deficits; from submission to the European Union and the Euro and the great powers, aligned with the interests of big capital; from a drop in revenue and increased spending due to economic recession and stagnation; from bank and company bailouts; from financial speculation and capital flight.
In recent years, until the outbreak of the epidemic, public and external debt declined in relation to the GDP. Interest rates decreased. The public debt held by the Banco de Portugal increased, as did the refund to the State, in the form of dividends and taxes, as part of the payment it makes for interest on that debt. Due to the significant resources they consume, due to the strategic dependence and risks they hold, these debts make the country vulnerable. The renegotiation of public debt and the reduction of external debt (linked to the increase in national production) remain a requirement.
The right-wing policy consolidated structural productive, energy, technological and capital deficits, leading to the explosion of a serious demographic deficit in the first two decades of the 21st century.
The productive deficit, which encompasses a foodstuffs deficit, is the direct consequence of depreciating the productive sectors - agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing industry - and national resources.
The energy deficit continues to weigh heavily on the trade balance. The growth in the use of endogenous resources (water, wind, solar, geothermal) reduced the import of electricity, but, driven by the interests of private capital, it has not allowed a drop in the deficit and energy costs.
There remains a deficit in Research and Development (R&D) and its incorporation into national production due to low levels of public and especially private investment.
The country has a high capital deficit as a result of feeble economic growth, capital flight, the policy of high dividends and tax avoidance and evasion.
And the most emerging and crucial of the deficits that the country faces: its demographic sustainability, grappling with a low birth rate - inseparable, among others, from low wages, precarious jobs and unemployment - enhanced by the continued massive emigration of young people, including a highly qualified workforce.
The Portuguese non-financial business fabric consists of around 600 thousand companies, the overwhelming majority of which (98%) are micro-companies with ten or less workers and small companies, and the rest (less than 2%) are medium-sized (up to 250 workers) and large companies. Only 0.6% of companies have more than 250 workers. Despite the Bureau of Statistics (INE) registering about one million and 300 thousand companies (1,278,164 in 2018), over 600 thousand of these companies are actually self-employed workers (sole proprietorship companies).
We thus have two business worlds with different legal statutes, capitalization and objectives: one that includes micro and some small companies - about 50% sole proprietorship companies and a few commercial companies - whose main purpose is to maintain the jobs they sustain and which are marked by great economic and financial weakness and by an activity tragetting the domestic market; and another that consists of medium, large (about 9000) and some small companies, where big capital and the strategic domination of key activities, namely export-oriented ones, is concentrated and centralised.
Nationally-owned companies are characterised, overall and albeit with exceptions, by poor quality management and little propensity for investment, which are essential (although not exclusive variables) to improve productivity and increase competitiveness. Private and national investment is low and largely dependent on public resources, namely EU funds. Capital is responsible for low national productivity as it prefers to distribute dividends rather than investing, even when indebted, and to gain competitiveness by means of low wages.
The organisation of big capital (national and foreign) in economic groups - with companies of multiple dimensions and sectors of activity, of a monopolistic/oligopolistic nature in strategic sectors and areas - marks the national reality, with consequences in the high cost of essential goods and services and in the predation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The presence of foreign capital, which dominates over 50% of the large companies, goes far beyond direct ownership, namely with the integration of many of them in the value chains of transnational companies; subcontracting; the presence of investment funds such as BlackRock (the largest global financial group with positions in six of the major PSI-20 [stock exchange index] companies); the activity of new transnational corporations, namely the “Big Technology Companies” that cross and intervene transversely in the entire productive and service fabric and have enormous political, ideological and economic influence, behave as enormous “gobblers” of wealth, on the fringes of any State or fiscal regulation or supervision.
The State, after the practical liquidation of part of its Entrepreneurial Sector (SEE), detains about 150 companies, with a residual presence in the productive sphere.
Since 2015, the SEE has remained reasonably stable, with the exception of the alienation to foreign companies in the area of defence, while at the same time transferring Carris and STCP to the municipalities. This fact does not conceal the alienation projects that are clear in the investment policies of which CP [railway company] is an example, in refusing to assume public management even when it is the majority shareholder (INAPA), in the non-reversion of the privatisation of CP-Cargo and in the refusal to nationalise - despite large injections of public money - companies such as Novo Banco or CTT, as well as other situations such as Efacec, where the logic of favouring the interests of big capital is evident.
The cooperative sector has, from an economic point of view, a significant presence in agricultural activity, but also in other sectors and activities such as consumption, housing and transport, including financial - case of Caixa de Crédito Agrícola Mútuo and Mútua dos Pescadores. Subject to the predation of monopoly capital, namely of large distribution companies, and without a policy that defends its role within the framework of the Constitution, the cooperative movement faces serious difficulties.
The country has six strong chains of external dependence, which mutually feed each other, creating a veritable economic and political colonisation, jeopardising national sovereignty and independence: integration within the EMU and its system of impositions and norms; the large External Debt and the corresponding and unsustainable Public Debt; the absence of a true Central Bank; the determining bloc of the business structure led by foreign capital and financial capital; the private commercial banking system - the exception being CGD - dominated by Spanish capital; and a set of structural deficits - productive, energy, technological, capital and demographic. The removal of these six main, deeply interconnected, constraints is an urgent goal to respond to the needs of the people and the country.
The ongoing reconfiguration of the banking system in Portugal, with the absorption of smaller banks and the centralisation of commercial banking operations in a small group of banks, is part of the banking concentration movement at EU level, that is, the Banking Union process. Thus, BANIF, BIC and majority positions in BCP/Millennium and BPI were taken over by Spanish banks (Santander and La Caixa). And Novo Banco (ex-BES) is also being prepared to be incorporated into a megabank, while Banco Montepio is facing problems.
The entirely public nature of Caixa Geral de Depósitos has prevented the total domination of foreign capital in Portuguese banking. This role would be even more relevant, were it not for the guidelines that governments and its management boards have promoted, aligning with private banking practices and EU impositions in the recapitalization process aiming to reduce its role and weight in the financial sector.
Since 2008, private banking has generated billions of euros of profits and dividends for its shareholders, but also large «losses», which have been largely covered by public resources (over 20 billion euros). The financial sector exerts constant pressure on the national economy. It extracts value from it, consolidates large economic groups, eliminates micro, small and medium-sized companies by managing access to credit, plays a fundamental role in tax evasion and money laundering, with Banco de Portugal - turned into an ECB [European Central Bank] branch – and foreign auditors legitimizing such practices.
The country's sovereignty over its financial system is at stake with the concentration of banks and other financial agents in the hands of foreign capital, reducing the ability to inspect and regulate financial institutions.
In the case of insurance companies, there has been a transfer to large international groups of the share capital of large national companies in the last decade, as was the case of Fidelidade, CGD Group, and Tranquilidade, Grupo Novo Banco, COSEC (which plays an important role in the foreign trade). This situation will worsen with the ongoing process of concentration.
The weakness of the national productive apparatus forces the country to depend from abroad, not only to satisfy basic needs but also to produce what it exports. The import coverage rate for exports of goods is less than 80%. The accumulated high external debt reflects this. The dependence from abroad has increased in the context of capitalist globalisation and the impositions of the EU. National production is not only insufficient but is increasingly dependent (almost 50%) on the external supply of goods and services. National production remains the central issue for the country's development, in the fight against the productive deficit and external debt, for employment and the rebalancing of the location of economic activity in the territory.
National agriculture continues to be marked by the impact of the [EU’s] Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and submission to its impositions, as well as by domestic choices favouring a so-called competitive agriculture, with disregard for small and medium-sized agriculture which should constitute an important support for domestic supply and indispensable reduction of the food deficit. The right-wing policy has undermined and adulterated land use, including its social function.
The following aspects are especially negative: the growth of areas of the big agribusiness, namely by resorting to super-intensive production (fruits, olives, horticulture and floriculture) with serious consequences for the territory and in the exploitation of, mainly immigrant, labour and which cannot conceal serious difficulties in essential areas such as dairy production, where dozens of farms continue to close, or threats to wine production; low production prices and the lack of product outlets, the progressive liberalisation of planting rights, the lack of regulation of the Family Farming Statute, preventing greater assistance; and the large-scale and serious forest fires that exposed the consequences of the right-wing policy in the Portuguese forest and in the rural world, which has been neglected by the abandonment and the dynamics of a supposed market controlled by economic groups that promote forestry monoculture and prevent the active management of the forest by its small and medium-size owners.
The positive changes forced by the PCP after 2015, whether with the re-institutionalization of Casa do Douro or with the amendments to the Law on Common Land, clash with a PS government committed to land concentration and large agribusiness.
The course of dismantling the Ministry of Agriculture looms large, with the transfer of forests to the Ministry of Environment and by depriving it of responsibility for animal protection. The absence of a national strategy for food sovereignty continues to create crises in several sectors and keeps the country wholly dependent from abroad, particularly as regards cereals. In addition, there is a gradual detachment from the monitoring and management of irrigation perimeters, built with public resources and which today are mostly under the control of capital, namely foreign capital. The absence of response to the problems of forest management and planning continues, as confirmed by the scale and frequency of forest fires. The brutal scale and consequences of the [forest] fires of June and October 2017, as well as those of the summer of 2018, revealed structural weakness in fire-fighting and prevention, a situation which the announcement of dozens of measures has not, so far, changed.
An important part of the national resources and potential in the geological, energy, transport, tourism, fishing spheres lies in the sea. Portugal has the largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the EU. Despite the constant propaganda regarding the potential of the "Blue Economy", there are major risks of alienation and privatisation of these resources, as is evident in the legislation on maritime spatial planning.
Fisheries, with its structural bottlenecks, faces decline, with the destruction of fishing communities, the decommissioning of the fishing fleet, the threat to the survival of pursue-seine fishing due to the management of sardines and other species associated with this [fishing] method. High operating costs remain, despite subsidizing fuel. Serious conditions of commercialization (first sale) remain. Difficult working conditions and low wages prevent the rejuvenation and increase in the number of fishermen.
The manufacturing industry, whose weight in GDP (14%) has languished for more than a decade, shows serious structural weakness due to the non-recovery of important basic and strategic sectors, and the absence of industrial sectors that could add value to natural resources. The growth in Gross Value Added - GVA (0.6% yearly average between 2009/2019) results from the insertion of industrial segments in international value chains and the dominant presence of foreign capital. The loss of decision-making centres and skills continues (as in the case of Cimpor [cement]) or even the closure of important plants. There is no progress in domestic production of investment goods and lasting consumer goods.
The country's industrial fabric, despite some positive developments (productivity and specialisation profile), maintains great strategic instability and external vulnerability.
In the mining industry, concessions of basic metals reserves to foreign capital continue, as do their non-valorisation in the country, together with a new rush of foreign companies and Investment Funds for mining concessions of metals or minerals, as is the case of lithium. The mining activity of industrial and ornamental rocks shows some slowdown.
Whether in terms of investment and public works or in terms of residential buildings, the building sector has not yet recovered from the impact of the 2007-2008 crisis.
Largely determined by real estate financial speculation (with haphazard and extensive occupation of the territory) and the options of public investment, the building sector - characterised by the weakness of the vast majority of business structures, by subcontracting and a precarious and highly immigrant labour force - is subject to strong competition from Spanish companies.
The trade and distribution sector saw the weight of large-scale distribution and large electronic trade platforms increase in the field of wholesale and retail markets. Large-scale Distribution, after the slowdown during the crisis triggered in 2007-2008, took a new leap with the opening of 60 new stores in 2019, and the entry of a new large group (Mercadona) in the country, simultaneously preserving the model of large and medium-sized stores and the location in shopping malls, has absorbed small local shops, enhancing its role of capitalist predation and accumulation.
Despite various legislative and regulatory initiatives, the margins appropriated by the large chains remained, through their predatory mechanisms (own-label brands, transfer of advertising costs, squashing production prices due to abuse of dominant position), and verticalization, descending in the value chain of production processes, namely in the agri-food sector.
Favourable external factors and the country's conditions have allowed for a significant growth in tourism in recent years. In 2018 Tourism Consumption contributed 11.3% to Gross Domestic Product and 9% of employment.
With the epidemic, the tourist flow from abroad, which represents close to 70% of the total, has been drastically reduced, as has activity. Thousands of workers and micro and small companies see their jobs and activity at risk, also as a consequence of the great dependence on a poorly diversified foreign market.
The growth in outsourcing of services by companies and sectors and refined formulas to exploit the labour force (companies renting labour force), internationalization and insertion in the value chains of multinationals and even the growing complexity of economic activity (as in the case of financial services) gave rise to many companies of administrative, accounting, legal, cleaning, security, and new services: IT, consulting and auditing, technical and scientific support, health and hygiene at work. This process, which started in many cases with cleaning and security services, tends to evolve into the core activities of companies. In two decades, its activity has seen its weight in GDP (7.8% in 2018) grow by more than a third.
On the one hand, there are labour-intensive companies, with thousands of workers (man-power, call centres, and others) subject to brutal exploitation and precariousness, and, on the other hand, companies made up of a small number of highly skilled and qualified workers. The ongoing extension of this process to public administration generates companies that play a crucial role in relations with the State (in particular large law firms and consulting companies), intervening in legislative processes, financial activities, EU funds, tax benefits, the functioning of arbitration courts, regulation and supervisory activities. These become key agents in subordinating political power to economic power.
The energy deficit, the dominance of the sector by foreign monopoly groups, the high energy costs for consumers and companies, the instrumentalization of environmental problems, mark the situation in the energy sector, as a direct result of the process of liberalisation and privatisation in this sector.
The country continues to be confronted with the absence of energy planning - in multiple dimensions, namely in transport policy, reductions in consumption - and the failure to implement programmes for energy efficiency; the segmentation and handing over of important assets to foreign groups, the inadequate development of renewable energy - a fundamental instrument for reducing external dependence - because it is carried out according to the interests of, and in promiscuity with, monopoly capital; the continued production of biofuel from dedicated agricultural production and insufficient re-use of domestic and industrial waste; Stock Exchange speculation with carbon emissions; delays in the rational use of forest biomass; external financial and technological dependence.
Despite positive aspects - halting and even lowering prices and tariffs on electricity, natural gas and petroleum products between 2015 and 2019 - pricing policies maintained oligopolistic, speculative and rentierist aspects, imposing, with the collusion of “independent” regulators, the highest energy prices in the EU.
Under the cloak of sustainability and climate urgency, the PS government's policy, in compliance with EU impositions, is characterised by erratic decisions (such as bringing forward the closure of coal plants or the sudden announcement of major investments in hydrogen), large-scale promotion of subsidised and/or tax-incentivised production. At the same time, so-called excessive rents for the benefit of monopoly groups remain, at the expense of the high price of energy paid by consumers.
As in other aspects, the processes of harnessing endogenous resources, including renewable ones, and technological transition, need to be freed from the interests of big capital and redirected towards satisfying the needs of the country, with the objective of energy sovereignty focused on harnessing national energy resources.
Transport policy remains essentially determined by the interests of the economic groups that dominate the sector. There continues to be a lack of a structural and strategic policy of replacing individual transport with public transport, reinforcing population mobility and territorial cohesion.
The importance of having reduced public transportation prices should be stressed, as it further highlighted the need to reinforce the offer in all modes of transport as well as the reconstitution of a national public operator for road transport.
In the meantime, right-wing policy commitments and orientations persist: investments that are repeatedly announced but not made, either in infrastructure or in material; the application of the Public Passenger Transport Service Legal Regime with the transfer of new responsibilities to municipalities. It was possible to integrate EMEF [rail equipment maintenance company] into CP [national railways], but not the railway infrastructure and freight transport. Over CP hangs the threat of liberalisation, ever-present in EU directives.
At TAP [national air carrier], we see the consequences of the private management that would have sunk the company had it not been for the public intervention that took place in 2020. ANA-Airports, handed over to Vinci, disinvests and, with government support, jeopardises the construction of the new [Lisbon] airport in the Alcochete Shooting Range. At NAV, the lack of investments in the air-traffic control system heightens the dangers for national sovereignty of the "single sky" [EU policy].
A parallel regime was created for passenger transport by car, in non-identified vehicles, representing unfair competition with the Taxi sector, increasing precariousness and the domination of multinationals such as UBER.
In the ports, the privatisation of operations continues, handing them over to multinationals. The country's dependence on foreign ship-owners intensified, with an unacceptable regulation of foreign ships over an almost non-existing national merchant navy.
In Telecommunications and Postal Services, liberalisation and privatisation continues. The State has handed the public radio spectrum to private interests. Telecommunications are among the most expensive in Europe and all public needs are contracted with private ones. Successive PPPs harm the State in millions of euros and do not even guarantee the satisfaction of the needs to be met. In some regions, access to the Internet and the mobile network is non-existent or very insufficient. DTT [public Digital Terrestrial Television] is limited in the number of channels so as not to compete with the private offer.
The leap to the 5G network is being designed so as to transfer it to the dominance and exploitation of multinationals.
The consequences of the privatisation of CTT are clear, with the marked degradation of the postal service and its subordination to financial activity with [the creation of a] CTT Bank.
The right-wing policy has led the State and Public Administration to a situation of extreme frailty. The dismantling of scientific and technological infrastructure has destroyed many of the State's centres of skills and knowledge. The degradation and organic weight of the inspection and supervision structures has represented an effective decrease in State intervention. The depletion and non-renewal of human and material resources of public services has jeopardised the duties of Public Administration in the most diverse aspects, namely those that refer to the competences and services of the State.
This is the result of the neoliberal vision of a "minimal State", whose functions are to be replaced and carried out by contracting with private companies, as is the case of economic auditing services which have been completely handed over to four multinationals. On the other hand, the so-called "independent" regulatory and supervisory bodies of competitiveness, energy, water supply and waste, communications (AdC, ERSE, ERSAR, ANACOM and others), created in the process of privatisation and liberalisation of strategic sectors, prove to be conditioned by the power and interests of the monopolies.
Budgetary policy continues subjected to the constraints imposed by the EU, namely in assuming speedier deficit reduction as a key goal. Budgetary management countered positive aspects of the Budgets [that were adopted] and remained subject to the use of captivations and other treasury operations. The low levels of public investment are worsened by the lack of control instruments and a policy that promotes their low rate of execution.
Taxes are essential to finance all State functions, services and activities and for a fairer redistribution of wealth. Fiscal policy has been marked in recent decades by a trend of higher taxation on wages and low and medium incomes, as compared to high-value income and assets, as attested by the growth in the relative weight of direct taxes (namely VAT) in the tax revenue and the weight of the Income Tax, which is much higher than the Corporate Tax, in total taxes on incomes.
The size and nature of the imbalances mark the current economic and social geography of the country, irrefutable expressions of which are the continuous depopulation of vast areas of the territory and the infrastructural shortcomings in the higher density areas.
The territorial imbalances, inseparable from the logic inherent to the capitalist mode of production that are established at different levels, from the right-wing policy and from the process of capitalist integration in the EU, have been deepening. The successive announcements of programmes regarding the “countryside” elude the political options that were at their root.
Housing is viewed as a commodity, a source of profit and a vehicle for capital accumulation. The real estate sector, including housing construction and renovation, is the target of the activity and speculative action of financial groups. The housing market remains marked by the predominance of the acquisition of own housing and the resulting bank debt. The exponential increase in rents, making them out of bounds for the overwhelming majority of families, the precariousness of lease contracts, the increase in evictions, and the policies of submission to golden visas and tax benefits for foreign residents, indelibly mark the problems of housing in the country.
In the environmental area, pressure to commodify natural resources and Nature's functions, associated with privatisation and the degradation of State resources, has prevented the development of a true policy to defend the balance of Nature.
The policy on environment, management of natural resources and territorial planning is based on submission to the interests of monopoly groups. The results of the private control of land use transformations leave negative marks and prevent the guarantee of a cohesive and balanced country, based on territorial planning and an environmental policy that revitalises and preserves the living conditions of the populations.
The message of shifting the burden of environmental problems to the individual and the promotion of a false conflict between generations, seek to conceal the responsibilities of the capitalist mode of production for environmental degradation and aims to create acceptance, among the masses, that environmental problems are solved exclusively by using technology, financial and speculative mechanisms, the taxation of individual behaviour and "green markets or consumption".
The so-called "green taxation" has deepened fiscal injustice and hides under this designation the penalisation of populations. The so-called market instruments in the environmental area, such as carbon emission licenses, have demonstrated effects contrary to those announced at the EU level, being nothing more than speculative mechanisms designed to ensure profits for some, commodify Nature and place resources and even natural functions at the service of the economic groups responsible for their degradation.
The so-called "green industries" and even recycling and waste management industries, operated in a profit-making logic, have fundamentally served to create new vehicles for the accumulation of value through new expenditures of energy and materials and are thus part of the problem.
In the field of waste, the polluter-pays principle, aimed at paying for damage and ignoring its prevention, increases the pressure to commodify its management, the root of the problems in the sector, particularly in the import of waste. The privatisation of EGF was a key factor in favouring economic groups to develop the waste business market.
The so-called projects for the co-management of protected areas, removing responsibility from the State, will be an incentive to privatise and commodify Nature, biodiversity and natural resources, and will worsen the lack of material and human resources of public structures to manage them.
The pressure for the exploitation of mineral resources by foreign economic and multinational groups, in a context of weakening public structures, does not guarantee the safeguarding of the country's interests from an economic, social and environmental point of view.
In the field of water resource management, public structures have lost workers, resources and competences, and have been removed from reservoir management. The lack of public investment, poor management and management focused on making profits in the dams dedicated to energy production have aggravated problems of drought, pollution and loss of water quality. Public structures have lost the ability to ensure the management, planning and even monitoring of international protocols.
The strategy of commodifying and privatising water has continued, preparing the handing of water collection and distribution and the collection and treatment of wastewater to private companies. The verticalization process of these public services also contributes to this objective, by expropriating the competences of municipalities and blackmailing for aggregation with the creation of large systems. A strategy which PS and PSD municipalities have carried out with the concession of their [water] systems, some of which have already reverted back to the municipalities due to the serious consequences both for the populations and for the public exchequer.
Despite significant steps to promote the use of public transport - inseparable from the decisive intervention of the PCP - an increase in supply and quality continues to be necessary.
Portugal needs a shift in environmental policy, aimed at preserving the balance of Nature and its ecological systems, based on national production as opposed to long production and distribution chains imposed by liberalised trade, respecting the "precautionary principle" in the face of new threats and problems, to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change, and which promotes and guarantees the democratisation of access and fruition of Nature, combating the commodification of the environment and its ideological and political instrumentalization by big capital.
2.13. Patriotic and left-wing policy
The advances achieved during the period of the new phase of national political life have not changed the profound structural problems that plague the country, due to the contradictions inherent in the options of the PS and its minority government, at the service of big capital and submission to the EU, which highlights the convergence in fundamental aspects with PSD and CDS, accompanied by its most reactionary surrogates, Iniciativa Liberal and Chega, to guarantee the essentials of the right-wing policy in core matters and areas of government action.
This reality highlights the timeliness and urgency of the struggle to break with the right-wing policy and for an alternative patriotic and left-wing policy.
A patriotic policy, which inscribes national sovereignty and independence as a central goal, affirming the inalienable right of the Portuguese people's decision-making power regarding the indispensable options and guidelines to implement them, and the prevalence of that sovereign will over any and all external constraints and impositions.
A left-wing policy that, without hesitation, assumes the break with the right-wing policy and the interests of big capital, and inscribes as a goal to value the rights and income of the workers and people, to improve the living standards of other anti-monopoly classes and strata, to promote justice and social progress.
A patriotic and left-wing policy that, based on the principles and values of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, are part of the struggle for the implementation of PCP’s Programme «An Advanced Democracy - The Values of April in the Future of Portugal» and which is an integral part of the construction of a socialist society in Portugal.
A policy that, based on the essential pillars and objectives - in its political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and national independence dimension - has eight priorities:
- liberating the country from submission to the Euro and the impositions and constraints of the European Union which, together with other expressions of a sovereign foreign policy, of peace and cooperation, can affirm a free and sovereign Portugal;
- renegotiation of the public debt, in its conditions, interest rates and amounts, guaranteeing a debt service compatible with the needs of public investment, development and job creation;
- valorisation of labour and the workers, based on full employment, increasing wages, reducing working hours, defending jobs with rights, combating unemployment and precariousness and valuing retirement and other pensions;
- defence and promotion of national production and productive sectors, by planning economic activity and the development of a policy to defend the manufacturing and mining industry, agriculture and fisheries, to reduce structural deficits, ensure environmental and territorial balance and place national resources at the service of the people and the country;
- guarantee of public control of banking, recovery for the public sector of the basic strategic sectors of the economy, affirming a strong and dynamic State Entrepreneurial Sector, support for micro, small and medium-size companies and the cooperative sector;
- guarantee of a public administration and services to serve the people and the country, valuing the National Health Service as a universal and free public service; a public, free and quality Education; a Public and Universal Social Security system; a public service of culture; the right to transport and adequate housing for all;
- defence of a policy of fiscal justice that eases taxation on the income of the workers and people, combats tax havens and breaks with the scandalous favouring of big capital;
- defending the democratic regime and compliance with the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, expansion of rights, freedoms and guarantees, combating corruption and implementing an independent and accessible judicial system for all.
The mass struggle and the patriotic and left-wing alternative
3.1. The mass struggle
Developments in recent decades confirm that only a break with right-wing politics will pave the way for economic development, social progress and the affirmation of national interests, a goal which is inseparable from the strength and determination of the struggle of the working class, all workers and anti-monopoly strata.
In the period since the 20th Congress, the mass struggle confirmed its prominent and irreplaceable role in defending, restoring and conquering rights, in resisting the attacks and limitations on freedoms and guarantees, and in responding to the problems and aspirations of the workers and people.
3.2. Working class and workers’ struggle, the engine of the mass struggle
The past few years have once again demonstrated the decisive role of the struggle of the working class and working people as the most decisive element for improving their living and working conditions, for raising social and political consciousness, and for asserting an alternative.
This struggle has been decisive in increasing wages, including the National Minimum Wage; defending collective bargaining and guaranteeing the resulting rights; in reducing working hours, with more workers with a 35-hour week, and rejecting the deregulation of working hours through adaptabilities, banks of hours and concentrated shifts; in providing permanent contracts for thousands of workers with precarious ties; in increasing the number of vacation days; and in forcing the payment of overtime and night and shift work.
The new political framework resulting from the change in the parliamentary balance of forces did not change the class nature of the PS and its minority governments.
In this context, PS not only kept most of the harmful rules in the labour legislation – namely the expiration of collective labour agreements, the facilitation and cheapening of redundancy payments, and not restoring the principle of more favourable treatment – as, in close alliance with the bosses, UGT and PSD and CDS, has worsened the labour legislation.
In this context, the struggle and fight developed and organized by the trade-unions of CGTP-IN and the workers in diverse sectors of activity, public and private, played a prominent role.
This struggle was waged in the workplace, companies, services and in the streets, with diverse expressions, namely in the celebrations of April 25th and the May 1st days of action – especially those in 2020, opposing the reactionary offensive against their realization – as well as in other actions of struggle, such as the rallies on National Youth Day or the Week for Equality. A struggle that had its largest mass expression in moments of convergence, which were all the more vigorous and important because to ensure their size they counted, essentially, on the capacity of organization and mobilization of workers and their class trade union central, CGTP-IN. In 2017, the National Day of Struggle on June 3rd, "United to Value Work and Workers", the National Demonstration on November 18th, "Fight to Value Work and Workers"; in 2018, the National Action on March 14th for the "Repeal of the harmful norms of the Labour Legislation", the National Demonstration on June 9th "For better living and working conditions, for rights, for valuing workers", the National Rally in front of Parliament on July 6th "Against the labour agreement of the PS Government", the great National Demonstration on November 15th "Advance with rights, value the workers"; in 2019, the National Rally in front of Parliament on April 11th with the slogan "No to the Draft Law of the PS Government", the National Demonstration on July 10th "Repeal the anti-labour norms, increase wages, value workers", and the National Action in front of Parliament on July 19th "Against the law worsening the Labour Code".
There were important struggles in diverse sectors of the economy, namely: metallurgical, chemical, petroleum, pharmaceutical, electrical, automotive, mining, pulp, paper and printing, trade and retail, logistics and large-scale distribution, food and beverage, hotel, restaurant, canteen, transportation, ports, airports, communications, call centres, textiles, clothing and footwear, ceramics, glass and cork, cleaning and security, social solidarity institutions, arts and entertainment. [These struggles] involved thousands of workers who gave public expression to their grievances, in particular for a rise in wages, against precarious jobs, for job security and jobs with rights, for a reduction in working hours and against adaptabilities, time banks, and concentrated schedules, in defence of collective agreements, against the expiration of collective agreements and for the restoration of the principle of more favourable treatment of the worker, as well as the fulfilment of rights laid down in collective agreements.
This struggle also mobilized workers in Public Administration, both Central and Local, for an increase of wages, for time served contributing towards career progression, for fair assessment system, and in diverse sectors, including water, sanitation, and waste treatment, health, security forces and services, the justice system, teachers and non-teaching staff in public schools, Social Security workers and most public and municipal services, as well as workers in the State-owned company sector.
Life has shown and continues to prove that the action and struggle of workers in the companies and workplaces, strengthening their representative structures, is the most decisive contribution in the struggle against insecurity, repression and exploitation, to defend collective bargaining and a general rise in wages, to reduce the normal work period to a 35-hour workweek for all employees without loss of pay, and for an improvement of working and living conditions.
3.3. The struggle of other classes, strata and social groups and of populations
The struggle of other classes, strata and social groups and of communities reached a relevant scale and contributed to solve concrete problems and raise awareness about the struggle’s potential.
In a political framework where advances were possible – even if limited and insufficient – with the struggle of workers and PCP's decisive intervention, the social alliance being established between the working class and the other classes and intermediate strata, thus broadening the social front of struggle, was a decisive factor for political convergence with the goal of defeating right-wing policies.
This convergence is all the more important as it takes place in a context of concentration of power by the big bourgeoisie, which seeks to hinder the organization of the growing mass of wage workers and the affected small entrepreneurs/producers, or push them towards reactionary conceptions and projects.
The struggle of these classes, strata and social groups and of local communities is very important to pursue the Party's policy of social alliances.
The struggle of farmers against the neoliberal policies confronting family farming, as well as small and medium-sized agriculture, forcing the closure of farms, favouring property concentration, with widespread aging of producers, and the subsequent worsening of the food deficit. We highlight the great national demonstration promoted by the National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA), in November 2018, in defence of national production and the rural world and the rights of populations and owners affected by the 2017 [forest] fires.
The struggle of fishermen and small ship-owners against the measures resulting from the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union, which deprives them of conditions for the exercise of their activity through numerous periods of interdiction and small catch quotas, which in turn is aggravated by the widespread degradation of ports, the ageing of fishermen and fleets, and the absence of social protection systems appropriate to the sector.
The struggle of micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs for their specific demands and against being crushed by monopolies, in a context where they have been the entreprises which suffered the most from the recurrent crises, with inadequate fiscal policies, and with the country's submission to the European Union and the Euro.
The struggle of technical staff and intellectual workers is expressed in various sectors of activity, namely against precariousness, for access to their profession and valuing their careers, and in the general struggle.
The struggle of art and cultural workers and agents for a policy of promotion and support for the arts that values working conditions with rights, recognizes and projects their role in society, and guarantees effective cultural and artistic freedom.
The struggle of the youth around their aspirations and specific problems, with emphasis on the demands around employment with rights, for free and quality public schools, equality, access to housing, the right to mobility, to sport, to culture, and in defence of the environment.
The struggle of women for specific goals of equality, the exercise of their rights at work, in the family and in life, and an important contribution to the general struggle, in particular the women's demonstrations convened by the Democratic Movement of Women (MDM) to celebrate International Women's Day, which have given mass expression to the struggle in defence of women's rights and for a true policy of equality.
The struggle of the old-age and other pensioners and the elderly for better pensions and valuing their civic participation, for aging with dignity and for the rights won during their working life, holding meetings, debates, demonstrations and their annual picnic.
The struggle of people with disabilities against inequality and discrimination, demanding a policy of true social inclusion.
The struggle of the professionals of the security forces and services for their socio-professional and union demands.
The military and their actions toward valuing the military condition and defending their rights, freedoms and guarantees, namely regarding their working conditions, careers, health and social support.
The struggles of legal practitioners, which took various forms, around their statutes, the reinforcement of human and material means, including for criminal investigation.
The struggle of emigrants and all Portuguese and Portuguese-descendants abroad in defence of the rights of Portuguese communities, namely against the governmentalization of the Council of Communities; for policies of language, education and culture that promote an effective link to Portugal; for measures that stimulate their participation in national elections; and for the strengthening of an efficient, quality and proximity consular network.
The struggle of immigrants for the right to legalization; against discrimination; demanding compliance with the Portuguese Constitution and the application and oversight of existing laws; for the guarantee to equality and the realization of their rights, with respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.
The struggle in defence of peace, against militarism and war, against NATO and imperialism, defending solidarity and cooperation between peoples, by holding diverse street actions, debates, concerts and exhibits, among other initiatives, including the Meeting for Peace.
The struggle in defence of the environment, ecological balance and respect for the limits of natural resources included a growing involvement of youth.
The struggle developed by populations covered diverse causes, including: against closing branches of Caixa Geral de Depósitos [public bank] and CTT post offices; the defence and reinforcement of the NHS and Public Education; the defence of day-care centres and after-school programs, against their closure; in defence of housing and against property speculation; against the privatization and concession of public water and sanitation services; for quality public transportation and against road tolls; to protect cultural heritage and the environment; and in defence of the restoration of [administrative] parishes that were abolished.
The struggle, with diverse dynamics and contents, against discrimination and prejudice, particularly in relation to sexual orientation.
These struggles resulted in important achievements, which must be valued. This political context also demands that the Party develops close ties to the masses and its ability to mobilize, as well as affirm its identity and nature, and stimulate its own political action and initiative.
3.4. The broad-based organization of the working class and workers. The Trade Union Movement
Organized in their class trade unions, the working class and workers have in CGTP-IN – the main trade union confederation of workers in Portugal, the basis of the United Trade Union Movement (MSU) – the firm, consequential and trustworthy organization that, throughout its 50-year long history, the resistance to fascism, the April Revolution, the counter-revolution and during the decades of right-wing policies, has played its role and assumed its responsibilities in defending the interests of the working class and the country.
An organization that – according to its Declaration of Principles and Programmatic Objectives - in its ideology and action, links the struggle of workers for their specific and immediate interests with the more general struggle for social transformation and construction of a society without exploiters or exploited.
Its strength and influence lies in its deep connection with workers and workplaces, the workers’ trust in the organization, inseparable from the assertion of its class nature, based on action practiced in full respect for its principles and essential characteristics of mass organization, unity, democracy, independence and solidarity. These principles, characteristics, role and commitment to action were reaffirmed during the 14th CGTP-IN Congress, held in 2020. This event was a great success, in itself an expression of this distinctive and transformational trade union project, which confirms CGTP-IN and the MSU as decisive and irreplaceable social forces in the present and future battles.
In a world where capitalism strengthens its exploitative, oppressive and aggressive nature in an attempt to overcome its worsening structural crisis; when it appropriates the advances in science and technology or takes advantage of an epidemic to bring back old recipes to maximize profit, to concentrate and centralize wealth, at the expense of more exploitation and attacks on workers’ rights and working conditions; when, from its command centres, it instigates and intensifies a brutal ideological offensive to hinder resistance and criminalize the organized struggle; when its promotes the creation and proliferation of divisive organizations in the service of capital's interests, from the discredited UGT and corporative unions to the more recent operations of proliferation of trade unions taking advantage of problems and dissatisfaction, orchestrated by the customary international centres and developed with vast support and broad media promotion, from reactionary sectors, business areas and allegedly radical groups, who want to weaken, disintegrate and see the capitulation of CGTP-IN and the MSU – the present importance and need for a class trade union movement which resists, finds answers for problems, reinforces its class nature, organization, unity and coherent struggle is an unavoidable reality.
As the demands from the workers' and trade union movement increase, old lines of attack against the influence of Communists in the united trade union movement re-emerge. There are attempts to falsify historical reality and the role that Communists have always had and have, in their workplaces, in defence of workers' interests and rights, and in strengthening their unity, organization and struggle; attempts to obscure that their large influence results not from any Party imposition or interference, but from the trust they receive from workers, electing them democratically, in broad ballots, for their representative structures, the trade unions, the federations, unions and CGTP-IN.
The obstacles, the new and old problems the MSU faces do not result from its class nature and identity or the influence of Communists, but rather from capitalist exploitation and oppression and the right-wing options and policies, pursued over decades by successive PS, PSD and CDS governments. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen the Party, its organization and intervention in the companies and workplaces, and the commitment of its militants in the battle to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of collective action, developing the formation of class consciousness and strengthening united action and the workers' structures. This demands safeguarding and strengthening the broad-based character of CGTP-IN and the MSU, based on convergence with other workers without party or affiliated to other parties and with different political, ideological or religious sensibilities, implying convergence on the basis of an identification with principles, goals and priorities, against capital's action and trade union divisionism.
The deterioration of the economic, social, and labour situation, and the persistence of structural deficits demand a response to the immediate problems of the workers, and confirm and reinforce the central priorities of union intervention and action, with initiatives in the workplace, promoting individual and collective rights in the legislation and collective agreements and against any attempt to restrict or impede the exercise of the right to trade union action and organization, the right to strike or protest. It is important to develop the struggle in defence of jobs with rights, against precariousness, for permanent positions for all workers with duties of a permanent nature; for an overall increase in wages and the national minimum wage, valuing professions and careers; for a 35-hour workweek; for conditions of health and safety in the workplace; for the rejection of the onerous labour laws; in defence and for stronger public services and social functions of the State; for a just tax policy.
Unionization – inseparable from industrial action, the dynamics of the struggle, the results achieved and their dissemination – forms the basis of the workers' organized force and guarantees the autonomy and financial independence of the unions and the United Trade Union Movement. Unionization, as a permanent task, and the strengthening of trade union organization in companies and services, is a responsibility of all trade union cadres, to which Communist militants in companies must contribute.
At the same time, internationalist cooperation and solidarity with the struggle of workers and peoples against exploitation, blockades, interference and war, for the right to self-determination and independence – an essential practice and characteristic of CGTP-IN – gains renewed importance, given the resurgence of the imperialist offensive on a global scale.
At the European level, CGTP-IN collaborates with organizations affiliated and unaffiliated to the ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation), to which it is affiliated. This organization is an integrated and integral part of the dominant system that promotes class reconciliation, namely as part of the capitalist integration of the European Union, but where CGTP intervenes respecting its own principles, characteristics and guidelines, while maintaining its independence in thought and action, seeking convergence and unity of action with other trade unions.
Given the two global organizations, the WFTU (World Federation of Trade Unions) and the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), with different orientations – the former, anti-imperialist; the latter, collaborationist and manager of the capitalist system – for historical reasons and to preserve its united nature and internal cohesion, CGTP-IN has no global affiliation. However, it develops an intense international action and solidarity, prioritizing contacts, cooperation and relations at the bilateral and multilateral levels with trade union organizations of all continents with whom there is affinity of principles and action, in defence of the class interests of workers.
The movement of Workers' Councils (CT) – a target of capital's offensive to limit the rights of intervention and constrain its members – continues to have an important expression and, in essence, converges with the MSU, despite movements aimed at dividing the workers. The CTs, their sectoral and regional coordinators, the sectoral and regional meetings, and the National Meeting of Workers' Councils express a significant dimension of this movement. The action of Communists has been expressive in the dynamization of CTs, in their connection with workers, their articulation with the MSU and in creating CTs whenever that is useful to workers and contributes to their unity, organization and struggle.
The Movement of Unemployed Workers (MTD), given its nature, with a dynamic closely tied with job fluctuations and the policies pursued, assumes greater importance in the present context, demanding its reinforcement and intervention in the struggle of the unemployed for jobs with rights, for better social protection for these workers.
3.8. Political and Party Situation
The political and party situation following the general elections of October 2019 presents some changes, namely at the institutional level.
Beyond the characterization of each political force in itself, one must note elements of party positioning and rearrangements resulting from each party's activities, aims and positions and from the intervention of diverse sectors, including the President of the Republic, seeking to favour a formal approximation of PS and PSD, favourable to a less constrained development of the choices that have marked the right-wing policy. Additionally, one must also consider the dynamics and repositioning dictated by the emergence of new political forces (particularly on the right, but not only) and by the aim to whitewash past positions and practices. A party situation with the coexistence of a clear rise in reactionary and extreme-right expressions, the instrumentalization of prejudiced concepts to foster populists and demagogic currents, the exacerbation of themes and topics that in several cases overshadow the country's key problems determined by political opportunism or as a weapon against others.
The PS [Socialist Party] maintains the same structural choices of commitment to big capital and submission to the European Union, with its minority government now having greater freedom, given the change in the parliamentary balance of forces in 2019. This choice counters the reiterated proclamation of left-wing solutions, increasingly converges in decisive matters with PSD, embodies choices that prioritize the interests of big capital at the expense of labour; absolutizes reducing the deficit and debt at the expense of the need for investment and valuing the Public Administration and its services; a priority to charitable assistance at the expense of a more just distribution of wealth.
The BE [Left Block], which continues to benefit from media promotion – despite institutional convergence with PCP, which coexists with an anti-Communist prejudice – maintains a position marked by ideological inconsistency, cultivates an agenda and positioning based on verbalism that does not change its social-democratic nature, expressed in its federalist positions assumed in the framework of the European Union, its submission to the dominant ideological environment, the alignment with the aims of imperialism, and the ongoing historical revisionism.
The Ecologist Party «The Greens» confirmed and strengthened the diversification of its action and intervention around, essentially, environmental issues, with links to communities and concrete struggles that bring prestige and strengthen CDU and its support base. The targeted silencing and minimization by the media does not erase the quality and seriousness of their political and institutional work and the long-held pioneering role in areas such as the protection of nature, the environment or animals.
The PSD [Social Democratic Party] is undergoing a repositioning effort that may contribute to whitewash or erase its recent responsibility for the policies of social setback and economic decline that it imposed on the country. This effort cannot conceal the reaffirmation of goals explicitly assumed in its last congress, with the formulation of a reactionary political project that seeks to change the Constitution and electoral laws and subvert Social Security and the NHS. Despite frequent convulsions and internal disputes, PSD continues to be controlled by big capital as an instrument to promote right-wing policies.
The CDS [Popular Party], which sought to whitewash its past responsibilities with a change of leadership, in the dispute for space to the right, assumes a more clearly reactionary agenda and objectives.
The PAN [Animals and Nature Party], benefiting from media promotion, maintains action centred on the defence of animals and some environmental issues, basing its intervention on a demagogic discourse that includes basic anti-Communism and a clear convergence with components of the right-wing and the interests of big capital.
The political and party framework resulting from the last legislative elections is still marked by the election of representation of three new political forces: Livre [Free], Iniciativa Liberal [Liberal Initiative] and Chega [Enough].
Livre, presenting itself as a force of causes and urban influence, not always assuming its social-democratic and federalist character, obtained parliamentary representation that it then lost, in a process related to the nature and positions that promoted its electoral base.
Iniciativa Liberal and Chega are surrogates of PSD and CDS, associated with big capital's most reactionary centres, and assume and promote anti-democratic values and concepts. Their action is part of the general offensive, namely ideological, against the Portuguese workers and people, seeking new and deeper levels of exploitation, an expression of the inseparable tendencies of capitalism's structural crisis.
Invoking differences and seeking distance from PSD and CDS, with their political stance following the elections in Azores they proved their instrumental character, their identification with objectives and projects that converge with the commitment to the system of exploitation and attack on democracy.
It should be noted that Chega, stressing a demagogic discourse of exacerbating issues which it sees as bringing them support, deliberately hides its role at the service of capital, the fascistic dynamics in its action, as well as its true aims, clearly expressed in its program, of liquidating the NHS and public schools and subverting the constitutional regime.
3.9. The struggle for the patriotic and left-wing alternative
The reality confronting our people and country highlights the struggle for a patriotic and left-wing political alternative, which includes a government capable of realizing this alternative, as a central and decisive element to ensure the necessary path, addressing the demands for development, progress and national sovereignty. A path that, sooner or later, the workers and people, through their action and struggle, will materialize.
The worsening economic and social situation, which the epidemic has accentuated in a context of structural fragility generated by right-wing politics in the country, demands an urgent break with the guidelines, logic, and class options of right-wing policies and a clear commitment to national sovereignty.
A break that demands determination and incessant action by the political forces that wish to give it substance and that has as its essential condition the enlargement of the struggle's social front, the decisive involvement of the working class and workers, and the massive participation of all anti-monopoly classes, strata and sectors, of all those affected by right-wing politics and of those who are truly and genuinely interested in turning the tide in national politics.
The patriotic and left-wing alternative – a complex and possibly protracted process – is an integral part of the struggle for an Advanced Democracy. The struggle of the masses, built step by step, around concrete objectives, around labour, social, economic and political demands, with actions of greater or lesser dimension, contributes to raise social and political consciousness and to a decisive broadening of the demand for a different course.
Associated with the development of the struggle is work to deepen dialogue and convergence with democrats and patriots without party affiliation, in order to achieve the necessary break. A serious dialogue, with clear objectives, with all who are genuinely committed to the realization of an alternative project, guided by the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, implies respect for the natural differences, overcoming prejudice, rejecting hegemonic ambitions and refusing marginalizations.
In this process of constructing alternative politics, the development of the mass struggle, the enlargement of the struggle's social front, and the strengthening of PCP's political, social, ideological and electoral influence are inseparable aspects toward the necessary change in the political balance of forces.
This path that life confirms cannot be postponed. This urgent and also possible path will not be built by the PCP alone, but it will not be possible without, or against, the PCP.
While indispensable in this process, PCP will also be indispensable to a government that gives expression to this alternative, which must include various democratic forces, sectors and individuals, and count on the support of the organizations and mass movements from the anti-monopoly sectors. Its viability and political and institutional support will be achieved by the workers and people with their attitude, their will, their struggle and their vote.
An alternative policy, and the government that implements it, depend on the development of the mass struggle in its different dimensions – a determining and decisive factor – and will be all the more closer to realization the stronger is the PCP's intervention, organization and social, electoral and political influence.
4.1. The Party and asserting its identity
The Portuguese Communist Party, created by the Portuguese working class and workers, a legitimate heir and continuator of the best traditions of struggle and of the progressive and revolutionary achievements of the Portuguese people, celebrates its Centennial by signalling and valuing its heroic history, by carrying out the struggle in the present and by affirming the Communist ideal and project, which project into the future.
Throughout these 100 years there has been no social transformation, no advancement or achievement by the Portuguese workers and people that is not directly or indirectly associated with the PCP’s activity, struggle, action and intervention. These are 100 years of life and struggle of a Party that, proud of its history and learning from its own experience and that of the international Communist and revolutionary movement, assumes with determination and confidence the demands of today and of the future.
The vast plan of commemorations which have already been announced must be enhanced in order to assert the Party, its identity and project of emancipation.
The PCP, with its activity, political line and perspective, embodies the essential characteristics of the Communist identity: it is the party of the working class and of all workers, which upholds the interests of the anti-monopoly classes and strata, free from the influence, interests, ideology and policy of the forces of capital, closely linked to the working class, the workers and the people in general. Its supreme goals are the construction of Socialism and Communism, of a society freed from capitalist exploitation and oppression. Its theoretical basis is Marxism-Leninism, a materialist and dialectical view of the world, an instrument of analysis, a guide for action, a critical and transformative ideology. It has operating principles arising from the creative development of democratic centralism, based on a profound inner-party democracy, a single general orientation and a single central leadership. It is a patriotic and internationalist party.
Because of its project, goals and action, the PCP is the target of attacks by big Capital. Although permanent, there has been a marked intensification of these attacks in recent years: either by the systematic silencing and curtailing of activity, namely as regards our propaganda and fundraising, or by provocations and the instigation of anti-Communist prejudice. Targeting the Party means targeting the main force of resistance and defence of the values of [the] April [Revolution], of freedom and democracy. These attacks are marked by the distortion of the PCP’s stance on very diverse issues; by the manipulation of the Party's position regarding the epidemic and the need to associate health protection measures with defending the exercise of democratic rights; by systematic campaigns on international issues; by distorting our position regarding the PS minority government and by slanders that seek to attack the credibility of the Party and its leaders, targetting the recognised quality of CDU's local government management implying that the Party is like all others parties, and to undermine the unity of the Party collective. In this context, we note the activity of some people who, presenting themselves as Party members, contribute to the campaign against the Party. The PCP is organised and functions according to organizational principles that are rooted in its revolutionary theory, Marxism-Leninism, developed and extended throughout the Party's almost 100 years of history, inseparable from its goals, identity and Programme. These operating principles are the basis of the Party's strength, its cohesion and inner-party democracy, its links to the masses, a guarantee of its confident, coherent and effective action. Disaggregating practices, whether questioning in public or de facto Party decisions, or through social networks, undermine the cohesion of the Party collective and condition its organised action. These practices must be prevented and fought, ensuring the regular functioning of Party organisations and bodies and seeking to raise the political and ideological level of Party members.
4.2. The Party’s action
The Party carried out an intense activity in the period since the 20th Congress, confronting the class options of the PS minority governments in favour of the interests of big capital and submission to the impositions of the European Union and the revanchist action of the PSD, CDS and their surrogates, which serve the same class interests. With its activity and the struggle of the workers and people, it was possible to defend, restore and win rights. The Party also assumed its vanguard role in responding to the epidemic and in resisting its use to attack labour, social and political rights.
During this period, the Party intervened in the elections for Local Government in 2017, for the Assembly of the Republic [Parliament], the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Madeira and the European Parliament in 2019, and for the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of the Azores in 2020. As part of this activity, the National Meeting on Local Elections was held in April 2017 and the National Meeting on the situation of the country and the elections, under the motto “Patriotic and Left-wing Alternative - Solutions for a Portugal with a Future” was held in February 2019 .
Among the many initiatives carried out by the Party, it is necessary to underscore the celebrations of the Centennial of the October Revolution in 2017; the Commemorative Conference, on February 2018, of the 2nd Centenary of the birth of Karl Marx; the event for the 170 years of the Communist Party Manifesto in April 2018; the National Meetings on Education in March and on Health in April 2018; the Meeting on the situation of MSMEs [Micro, Small and Medium Companies] in April 2018; the Conference on the “Patriotic and Left-wing Alternative for a Portugal with a future” in November 2018; the rally for the Party's 99th Anniversary, which initiated the PCP's Centennial celebrations in March 2020; and the Commemorative Conference on the 2nd Centenary of the birth of Friedrich Engels, in September 2020.
Still during the year 2020, in the conditions created by the epidemic, there was direct intervention among workers and local communities, the holding of sessions and rallies, as well as the Party's initiatives and positions on the 150th anniversary of the birth of Lenin, on the 75th anniversary of the Victory over Nazi-fascism and on a wide range of problems in national life, using electronic means.
The PCP commemorated the anniversaries of the Party and of the 25th of April and ensured the success of the Avante! Festival. In terms of strengthening the Party, the success of the action of 5,000 contacts with workers deserves to be underscored.
In a difficult context, the Party lived up to its responsibilities, nationally and internationally.
The Party's leadership work has been subject to exacting demands in the past four years, whether in the Party's action to implement the guidelines defined by the 20th Congress, or in the response and initiative in the face of the continued and intense onslaught on the Party with a campaign of mystification and slander and the attempt to limit its activity.
In the main, one has to value the initiative and the response given. However, there are shortcomings that must be overcome.
The Central Committee, fulfilling its role, exercised the supreme leadership of Party work. It held twenty meetings, discussed the national and international situation and took decisions on aspects of particular importance.
The Central Committee of the PCP to be elected by the 21st Congress, considering the experience of the leadership work, should preserve its characteristics, namely with regard to its competences and size, although there may be a slight reduction [in size]. The Central Committee should continue to have a large blue and white-collar majority, with a strong working class component. The Central Committee should include Party cadres – full-time party workers and non full-time workers - with responsibilities in leadership work, comrades from companies and workplaces, leaders or activists of mass organisations and movements, who are prominent in various areas of national life. Natural renewal must bear in mind a composition that combines the participation of more experienced cadres with entrusting responsibilities to young people, as well as women.
The process of preparing the proposal for its composition must, in accordance with the Party's identity, nature and operating principles, ensure broad consultation and a rigorous work corresponding to the importance and role of the Central Committee as the leadership body for Party work in between Congresses, and as part and parcel of the concept of collective work and leadership.
The Central Committee’s executive bodies - the Political Committee and the Secretariat - by and large fulfilled the responsibilities entrusted to them, having to face a very demanding situation for the Party's work. It is necessary to improve their work and the structures that support them.
The Central Control Commission ensured its functions as the body responsible for supervising the statutory legality of the Party's activities, as an appeal body for any Party organisation or member and in supervising the Party's accounts.
The structures supporting the central leadership contributed significantly to fulfill this work, in terms of study, preparation and coordination on the national and sectoral levels and for the mass fronts and institutional action. Shortcomings were detected, that must be overcome by carrying out a general assessment, area by area, defining priorities and adopting the necessary measures to strengthen them, by mobilising and entrusting cadres, by preventing overlaps and repetitions and operational definitions articulating the necessary, prompt and effective responses with the real availability of cadres.
The leaderships of the regional organisations, which play an important leadership role and articulate central work with municipal committees, other intermediate bodies and the [Party] cells, were once again called to a demanding level of intervention, responding in a way that must be underlined. The situation requires that they be strengthened, namely by entrusting responsibilities to more cadres and a distribution of tasks according to the priorities, characteristics and readiness of cadres, a better monitoring of execution and deepening the study of the organisations and the reality in which they act.
The municipal committees and other intermediate leadership bodies, namely from professional sectors and companies, are essential for leadership work. Their number is insufficient, and it is necessary to create and promote more municipal committees. The functioning of some of them reveals difficulties which must be overcome, namely in terms of accountability of cadres, the dynamization of grassroots organisations, links with the masses and political initiative.
The parish committees deserve more attention, assessing and strengthening existing ones, creating them in parishes where they do not exist, considering their real potential (number of members, degree of participation and readiness of cadres) and encouraging their link to, and action among, the populations.
The work of coordination of national and multi-regional companies and sectors is of great importance. It requires the availability of central cadres for regular monitoring and of comrades who, in the regions, assume the tasks of intervention and organisation. Taking into account the Party activity as a whole, it was not possible to ensure this to the necessary degree. It is necessary to carry out a general assessment, to define priorities according to the importance of each sector and company and to the availability of cadres, and to take steps to entrust cadres with these responsibilities.
PCP's activity would not have been possible without the persistent, daily, revolutionary work of each Party member, particularly of its cadres.
Party members who carry out and are responsible for regular tasks are considered cadres, regardless of their organization, of the nature of their tasks, of their overall level of preparation and knowledge. Cadres stand out from other militants due to their responsibility, readiness and activity.
Among cadres, it is important to highlight and value full-time Party workers, as politically and ideologically steadfast cadres, professional revolutionaries, militants who are not employees, but rather cadres fully dedicated to the struggle.
Currently, the number of full-time Party workers exceeds three hundred (including the increasing number of those who have retired but remain active). There is a constant concern and effort to renew and rejuvenate the body of full-time Party workers, namely with comrades originating from company cells and workplaces. This goal has been materialized, despite the Party's financial difficulties.
As a result of the Party collective’s experience, acquired through revolutionary practice, cadre policy is based on the Party's identity and on the knowledge, preparation, training, selection and promotion of cadres. The rigorous assessment of cadres, of their capacities and potential, of their commitment to the tasks assigned to them, of their attitude towards the Party and society, of their character, of their personal difficulties and problems, of their prospects of gradually assuming ever more future responsibilities, demands that the organizations and those in charge of them have a deep knowledge, only possible through direct monitoring and assistance in the fulfilment of tasks.
The preparation and training of cadres deserves intense Party attention, not only in terms of practical political action, but also in terms of theory, striving to assimilate in a creative way and in permanent connection with practice, the essential aspects of its theoretical basis - Marxism-Leninism.
The response to the complexity of the class struggle, namely its ideological expression, requires militants, and in particular cadres, who are increasingly better prepared.
The day to day militancy, the social and political struggle and collective work, are essential aspects of cadre training. This, however, does not replace the need and importance of their theoretical preparation. Training courses remain an irreplaceable means for assimilating the Party's ideological base and strengthening its organizational functioning, and a privileged arena for raising the preparation of cadres, both in general and in specific fronts of activity. But political and ideological formation requires reading and studying the fundamental Party documents, Avante! and O Militante, whose content deserves regular attention in the organisations' meetings. Reading the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, and the works of Álvaro Cunhal and other publications of Editorial “Avante!” are essential to further the theoretical foundation of cadres and militants.
In the period since the 20th Congress, positive work was carried out. There were 27 courses at the Party School attended by 920 comrades, including the course for full-time Party workers. In the Regional Organisations 133 training actions were carried out with the participation of 2,100 comrades.
There is awareness of the difficulties and shortcomings, but it is essential to value positive steps in aspects related to the Party's cadres, with emphasis on the survey and accountability of specific tasks, with particular attention to company cells. In order to respond to the needs of Party-building and the demands of the struggle, the following lines of work are essential:
- a regular debate in the organisations, particularly in the secretariats, on cadre assessment and the survey of new comrades to be entrusted with responsibilities, in particular workers, youth and women, defining concrete tasks and assessing their implementation;
- increasing the distribution of responsibilities to comrades for tasks compatible with their readiness and characteristics;
- assessing, among the most prominent cadres, those who can become full-time Party workers;
- monitoring the execution of tasks, which is essential in assessing our work and the knowledge and development of cadres;
- defining, in a more organised and focused way, the annual plan of training courses on a central and regional level, so as to expand the theoretical preparation of cadres, making full use of existing resources in the Party School and in regional organisations.
The Party, in order to act and fulfill its vanguard role in materialising its goals, needs a strong, structured and mass-linked organisation. The situation, evolution and structure of the organisation cannot be dissociated from the context in which the Party operates. There is a permanent need to strengthen it, with tasks and priorities that must be adjusted to each concrete situation.
The Party has 49,960 members, with a reduction due to the fact that the number of new recruitments did not compensate for the number of comrades who ceased to count as Party members, mainly as a result of deaths.
The social composition did not change significantly, with a large majority of 70.1% working class and employee members, and a blue-collar worker component of 36.9%. As for age composition, 11.4% are under 40 years of age, 39.5% are between 41 and 64 years old and 49% over 64 years old. The proportion of Party members over the age of 64 has increased. The percentage of women, 32%, once again reflects an increase.
In recent years, 3,245 new militants have been recruited, of which 67% were under the age of 50 when they joined the Party.
In the main, despite a slight reduction, the proportion of Party members integrated into bodies remains the same and 36% are paying dues.
There are 2,417 bodies, including organisations that meet in plenary sessions. Of these, 310 are company and workplace organisations and 567 are organisations based on places of residence. There is a slight drop in the number of bodies.
In the action to strengthen the Party since the 20th Congress, particularly important was the Central Committee Resolution of January 2018 “On strengthening the Party, for a stronger and more influential PCP”, which pointed out as priority guidelines: leadership work; entrusting responsibilities to cadres and political and ideological training; militancy and the new Party membership card; the recruitment and integration of new militants; organisation and intervention in companies and workplaces; local organisations; working with specific strata and social sectors; Party propaganda and dissemination of the Party press; own resources and financial independence; holding assemblies of Party organisations; organisational and operating principles, the basis of the Party's strength.
Among the guidelines adopted, particularly important and successful was the “action of contacts with 5,000 workers to present to them the reasons why they should join and strengthen the PCP”. There were conversations with 5,074 workers, resulting in 1,350 new members and the consideration and availability of many others to support the Party and take part in its activity. New cells were created and mass organisations were strengthened. Also noteworthy is the work carried out to hand out the new Party membership card.
In the period since the 20th Congress, the Party organisation was once again put to the test. It resisted and fulfilled its role.
The current situation and future demands make strengthening the Party a central issue. Lines of work that have been identified in this regard must be implemented within the context of the Centenary commemorations. These involve, in terms of structuring and organisation, giving special emphasis to action and organisation among the working class and workers in companies and workplaces and the recruitment and integration of new Party members.
It is necessary to value militancy and broaden the awareness that this is a key element of the Party's strength and to encourage more comrades to shoulder responsibilities and carry out regular work. It is necessary to act so that each comrade takes on a task, in accordance with their possibilities and readiness.
It is necessary to ensure the integration of more Party members into bodies, to encourage their participation taking into account the various aspects that contribute to this objective, to better monitor and to establish forms of regular contact. It is necessary to ensure speedy transfers of militants between organisations and their effective integration.
It is necessary to promote the recruitment of new militants as a regular action of Party organisations, which must encourage their militants to assume this practice which is indispensable for the rejuvenation and strengthening of the Party. In this sense, and with a view to taking advantage of the existing potential, the 21st Congress decides to launch a National Recruitment Campaign, under the motto «The future has a Party».
Strengthening the organisation and intervention among the working class and workers in companies and workplaces is a priority. Following the action of the 5,000 contacts, it is necessary: to create new cells and define more comrades responsibles for cells, materialising as of now the goal which was defined for the Party's centennial of giving responsibilities for cells to 100 new comrades and of creating 100 new company, workplace and sector cells by March 2021; to adjust leadership and cadre measures in each organisation, with a view to strengthening the Party in companies and workplaces; to characterise each of the functioning cells and their activity among the workers and regarding their main problems and aspirations; to promote the unionisation of Party members; to systematically identify workers who stand out in each company, to establish regular contact and, whenever appropriate, talk to them about joining the Party; to continue the work to integrate Party members under the age of 55 in company and workplace organisations; to ensure more regular control of execution of tasks; to hold a meeting in each regional organisation on the situation and the implementation of the decisions taken; to carry out a national action on the Party in companies and workplaces.
The necessary strengthening of local organisations requires: an intervention focused on the problems and aspirations of the communities, namely the younger generations and the retired and pensioners; dynamizing actions and struggles; encouraging the creation and action of popular committees and movements based on local problems and aspirations; paying attention to the Community Associations Movement; an activity in Local Government bodies articulated with direct action to solve problems and with the struggle of the populations; the renewal and rejuvenation of leadership bodies and the distribution of tasks among their members.
It is essential to promote: the strengthening of JCP and work among the youth; intervention in the area of culture, with intellectuals and technical cadres; working with retirees and pensioners; action with farmers and micro, small and medium-size entrepreneurs; work with women; action with people with disabilities; working with immigrants; work among the unemployed; organised work with emigrants and with all Portuguese and Portuguese descendants abroad.
The regular holding of assemblies of Party organisations at various levels, with particular attention to those of grassroots organisations, is of great importance and requires particular attention.
It is important to improve the working conditions of the Party’s Work Centres [headquarters], their appearance and the proper use of their potential, to continue the process of adapting them to the current needs of the Party's work.
4.6. Organisation, intervention, links with the masses
The Party's link to the workers and populations is inseparable from the transforming strength and energy of the struggle and its decisive contribution to the revolutionary transformation of society, and is of strategic importance. Capital is afraid of the organised struggle and hence its class hatred against the Party.
The Party organisation has a decisive role in linking with the masses, in knowing their problems and aspirations, in the encouragement and organisation of the struggle, guaranteeing its coherent and transforming character based on the most heartfelt concrete problems.
Despite the progress that has been made, there are still organisations where blockages remain, prevent the Party from linking with the masses. It is necessary and urgent to overcome them.
In linking the Party with the masses, the Communist militants who intervene in mass organisations and movements and other unitary structures play an important role. An increasingly active and committed participation of Communists in these structures is required. Also necessary is their action in raising awareness among others in their day to day life. Talking to others about the Party and its proposals must be a constant activity of every member. In linking with the masses, it is necessary to carry out a broader-based political work with thousands of independents and other democrats and patriots who need the Party’s voice and opinion, as the Party needs their opinions and their knowledge. In this work, particular attention must be given to the many independents in the CDU. In linking with the masses, the struggle of workers and populations and institutional activity should be enhanced. Experience shows that it is in the links with the masses that those who stand out the most in the struggle become known to us and are drawn to the Party.
4.7. Ideological battle
The ideological battle plays a pivotal role in the class struggle. Just as it holds the main means of production, big capital dominates the main means of ideological diffusion and conditioning, from the big mass media to education, from culture to entertainment.
Big capital's ideological onslaught has the central aim of perpetuating its dominant positions and limiting the workers' class and political awareness, and, consequently, the revolutionary struggle.
Main lines of the ideological onslaught are: anti-Communism and the attack on the PCP; the falsification of History and the instrumentalization of international issues for major operations of diversion; the whitewashing of fascism and the promotion of anti-democratic conceptions; the subversion of ethical and behavioural values in order to foster individualism and conformism; the concealment of class contradictions and the denial of antagonistic interests; the presentation of events out of context and in a superficial way; the concealment of class relations and the resulting loss of perception of exploitation and inequalities, as well as their trivialisation; the inculcation of fear and uncertainty to justify the acceptance of decisions contrary to democracy and to individual and collective rights; the perversion and inversion of civilizational values; inflating crime and violence; the use of motivations and movements regarding real issues with an impact - of gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation - as instruments of division; the instrumentalization of concern for animals; taking advantage of corruption to attribute to democracy what originates in the sphere of monopoly capital. There is also an ideological campaign of mystification regarding the new phase of national political life, about a supposed “left-wing majority”, insinuations about the PCP's compromises and distortions about its action, falsifications regarding an alleged lack of dynamics in the workers’ struggle.
Key lines of the Party's intervention in the ideological battle, which have to be present in an integrated manner in all actions and means at our disposal, are: the denunciation of the nature of Capitalism; the fight against reactionary and fascist ideas, racism, xenophobia and anti-Communism; the struggle against the conceptions of social democracy; the valorisation of work and the workers, of the struggle and of unity; asserting the values of April and the Party's project.
4.8. Information, propaganda, press, publishing activity, Avante! Festival
It is essential to ensure an ever stronger, persistent and effective PCP information, propaganda and communication. This is a distinct but complementary and irreplaceable arena in asserting the Party's positions and project, in the fight against the silencing and the campaigns of manipulation that are taking place. This is all the more important when the much promoted information society is in fact a system of disinformation.
The truth, correctness and clarity of the Party's positions are the focal point on which information and propaganda are based. The message is a process in which, based on a rigorous analysis of reality and the positions and experience of the PCP, a synthesis is formulated and a correct and effective position is put forward for the struggle, for transforming the world, for reinforcing the intervention and the Party.
Information and propaganda work makes a significant contribution in linking with the masses, organises direct contact with the workers and people, intervenes on each problem and region, company and workplace, in each struggle, on national issues and in the ideological battle.
To this effect, agitation, proximity and speed of response, with a short document, a banner, an idea on social networks, a direct contact regarding a concrete struggle, can have an enormous impact. It is important to multiply the agitation, adapting the message, with correctness and effectiveness to clarify, fight and broaden the Party's influence.
Information and propaganda work is a task for the whole Party and for all its members. It must be continuously improved by the action of each Communist and by the integrated intervention of the Party collective, supported by the Party’s organisation, positions and priorities.
It is the responsibility of the Party bodies, in particular the Leaderships of Regional Organisations, to plan, implement and direct these tasks, to mobilize collectives, to train and entrust responsibilities to cadres, to articulate the availability ensuring an activity that, taking into account financial limitations, seeks to overcome shortcomings and means for the multiple tasks of information and propaganda and makes full use of the materials that are produced.
At the central level, it is necessary to enhance forces and resources, promote the training of cadres, using different means, including specific courses, and mobilise knowledge and availability. It is important to reinforce the national coordination and articulation of information and propaganda work.
Progress has been made in the Party’s response in this field and in recognising its indispensable role for the Party. But much remains to be done to improve the information and propaganda tools and ensure an integrated and continuous activity in the major struggles of the present and the future.
The Party's presence in the area of electronic communications has increased. There was a positive evolution in its central website, which again proved to be an important tool in circulating the Party’s positions and activity. The websites of regional organisations, in general, have gained space and quality that must be optimised, strengthening their liaison with the central website. Work was carried out in digital platforms, initiating intervention in the so-called social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp and producing and making contents available on other platforms.
It is necessary to better structure the dissemination of contents aimed at specific groups and to project the Party's presence in the various networks, with measures to expand the dissemination and involve the organisations and the organised intervention of the Communists.
The speed of communication in the digital field cannot jeopardise a collective functioning and decision-making. Readiness, regular presence and appealing synthesis are essential elements, without prejudice to the political content.
Social networks should be used by Party militants just like other spaces of collective life: to clarify, share the PCP orientation, to maintain an ethical stance, keeping what pertains to the Party’s functioning within Party bounds.
Increasing communication through digital platforms should be valued, due to its potential, but let there be no illusions: they are owned by multinationals, with all the implications of this for the dissemination of the dominant ideology and with their ability to censor contents and shut down access at any time.
The priority for the PCP's intervention lies in direct day-to-day contact.
The Party's work with the media requires spreading its activity at different levels of the organisation, by entrusting responsibility to cadres for the tasks and the creative search for appropriate solutions, to spread the message in each circumstance. This activity requires regular and persistent initiative, including denunciation and protest whenever appropriate, to combat discriminatory practices, silencing, distortion and the growing expressions of anti-Communism in the mainstream media.
The Party press - Avante! and O Militante - play an irreplaceable role in the Party's activity.
In a complex political and ideological context, the importance of reading and circulating the Party press is greater. It is a fundamental instrument in informing on the Party's positions, analyses and orientations at national and international level, in the battle of ideas, in raising class and political awareness, in forming and helping militants, in linking the Party to the masses and extending its influence and prestige, as a means of contact between the Party and its militants, friends and other democrats, in informing and valuing the struggles of workers and peoples .
Avante!, the central organ of the Party, plays a fundamental role in Party life. A role that requires expanding its circulation with the implementation of measures to: increase the number of its regular buyers, contacting Party members and supporters so that they purchase it weekly; expand and rejuvenate the number of comrades who take on the task of distributing Avante!, stressing its importance within the context of assuming permanent responsibilities; create new structures for editorial dissemination (ADE); regularly organise public sales, namely in companies and workplaces; promote special editions and sales; continue the effort to expand its presence and projection on the Internet.
In terms of content, it is necessary to expand the thematic treatment and diversify the forms of approach. At the same time, strengthening the links with organisations and the sources of information, news and suggestions is a contribution to diversify contents and address current issues.
O Militante, due to its contribution to information and the political and ideological training and in dealing with organisational issues, demands greater promotion, circulation and reading.
In view of the increased demand for information and communication activity and following the progress that has been made, it is important to further the debate on new measures at various levels and on a more organised and wider use of the potential of organisations and militants, considering specific national actions with this aim.
Publishing activity represents a valuable means of intervention, which must be defended in a context of changing for the worse of the situation of the publishing and bookselling sector in the country. It is important to expand its promotion, boosting organizational and militant circulation, with a political, ideological and cultural line of action and with greater use of technological means, continuing the advances made in this field. It is necessary to extend publishing activity to the electronic edition of books. In the publishing field, it is important to continue publishing the classic works of Marxism-Leninism, the Selected Works of Álvaro Cunhal and others on aspects of PCP's History, as well as on current issues. The «Editorial Avante!» [publishing house] must continue its publishing dynamics in articulation with the Party’s activity.
The Avante! Festival, a festival of the youth, workers and the people, is the result of collective work and of the PCP’s capacity to prepare and organise an important demonstration of its identity, a space to assert the values of April, the Party’s ideal and project.
The Avante! Festival, a great expression of militancy, is important for entrusting responsibilities to cadres, in mobilizing the [Party] organisations and in involving many friends of the PCP and of the Festival. Its editions since the 20th Congress have been remarkable successes.
The Avante! Festival which has, since its first edition, been the target of the hatred of big capital and reactionary forces, faced a violent campaign in 2020 which under the cover of the epidemic, sought to prevent and condition its holding.
The 2020 Avante! Festival - its preparation, organisation and implementation - was a great success of the Party collective, a remarkable assertion of militancy, capacity, resistance and determination. The holding of the Avante! Festival with responsibility, courage, security, joy and creativity was the practical demonstration that it is possible to fight fear and resignation and give hope and confidence.
Affirming the conception that characterizes the Festival, and distinguishes it from all other events, it is necessary to continue assessing and taking steps to value its political and cultural expression, namely its broad and diversified programme with features that enhance its capacity to attract new and broader sectors, including new artistic expressions, as well as solutions that simplify its construction, renovating and training teams and improving operational efficiency and the quality of services.
The work of information about the Festival, its characteristics and programme and the sale of the EP (Entry Pass), a ticket of solidarity, are essential aspects for its success, which requires a special attention at the central level and by the Party’s organisations and members.
The PCP’s financial independence is a solid guarantee of organisational, political and ideological independence, an important value that must be preserved and ensured in our work and activity.
To strengthen the Party's financial independence is, now and in the future, guaranteeing the necessary means for its activity, so that it can fulfil its role with the workers and the people. It guarantees the funding of the Party through its own strength and resources, with its initiative and functioning, with the contribution of its militants and friends and of other democrats and patriots.
Party dues, the definition of their amount and their regular payment, are a fundamental duty of every Party member and create a bond that helps understand the importance of the role of each member in financing the Party. They represent the most important source of revenue of the Party.
The Law on Financing of Parties and Electoral Campaigns and its anti-democratic provisions, and the intervention of the Office of Political Accounting and Financing (ECFP), with abusive expressions of interference in Party life and unreasonable interpretations of the legislation, target the PCP and the Avante! Festival. They promote [political] parties that live on public subsidies and create difficulties for the PCP, which ensures its financing based on its own militancy and initiative.
It is in this context that the PCP has been the main target of attacks and public campaigns that aim to condition and create difficulties to our financial independence. Prominent among them are: the dissemination of the thesis that seeks to confuse financial independence, based on its own financial resources originating from its militants and supporters and strict management criteria, with a “rich Party”; the mystification surrounding the Party's assets, created and maintained over the years using fundraising campaigns, militant work and donations; speculation about VAT and Municipal Property Tax (IMI), which is based on the devaluation of party action recognised by the Constitution to all parties and seeks to target and discriminate against the Party; the pressure and discrimination targeted at the way the Party ensures its means and intervention, not dependent on others.
In the period since the 20th Congress, which includes the accounts from 2016 to 2019, it is clear that the Party's revenues are fundamentally based on its own sources of revenue - dues, contributions from militants, initiatives - which correspond to 85% of the total revenue, a relevant factor of the manner of Party financing.
However, the financial result of the Party's regular functioning and activity in that period shows a large average annual negative value, which did not enable to overcome the financial situation identified in the last Congress.
Extraordinary and institutional revenues did not make it possible to overcome the deficit resulting from regular activity, with an average annual negative financial result of 310,000 euros.
In these four years under analysis, there has been a global growth in revenues, with emphasis on the reinforcement of the contribution from militants and elected representatives, with a slight decrease in the value of dues and a significant drop in the product of fundraising initiatives.
There was an overall increase in expenses.
In most regional organisations, accounts remained in deficit, with no reduction in their dependence on Central Party Account. It was not possible to have more organisations contributing to the general activity of the Party and less continuing to depend on central support.
The situation requires that measures continue to be implemented to overcome the great financial imbalance found in Party accounts and to ensure financial sustainability.
In the context of the Party's centennial, the National Funding Campaign “The future has a Party” was launched, which runs from April 2020 to May 2021. In this campaign, the most significant that the Party has promoted, it is not just one or other concrete target that is present, as in previous fundraising campaigns. In this campaign, it is the Party, its 100-year history of heroic struggle, its ideal and project, its current and future action, that are invoked for the financial contribution of each one.
The Party's financial policy goals are:
- to increase the financial capacity, which is essential to ensure the Party's activity, for which it is necessary to act adequately in managing available resources, to carry out a careful assessment of expenses, with the reduction of those that do not create difficulties for the Party's intervention, but above all to promote the growth of own revenues;
- to ensure the financial balance of the Party and its organisations by reducing the dependence of organisations on the Central Party Account and the relative weight of revenues from institutional sources and others of a more incidental nature.
The Party's financial sustainability must be ensured with a realistic and rigorous assessment of needs, guaranteeing beforehand the proper resources for all activity, including electoral battles, drawing up budgets in each organisation that allow the fulfilment of the commitments assumed without jeopardising the future intervention of the Party, carrying out budgetary control and permanent monitoring of the financial situation.
The lines of work to be developed are:
- expanding and stimulating the functioning of structures to monitor financial issues – fundraising, financial control and accountability - and entrusting more cadres with the various tasks involving funds, ensuring their valorisation and the strengthening of collective work, as well as a regular control of execution;
- continuing and broadening the discussion in all organisations and bodies involving the largest number of militants to overcome misunderstandings, political underestimations and bottlenecks and increase the understanding of the responsibility of each organisation and each of its members to strengthen the Party’s financial capacity;
- the regular collection of dues, an essential central factor for the financial independence of the Party, pointing out the objective of updating the dues and the need to increase the number of comrades with the responsibility of collecting them and expanding the use of other means available for their regular payment, namely bank transfers; the increase in the amount of the contributions - with each Party member increasing his dues to at least one euro - regardless of the basis of reference of 1% of income for fixing the amount of the monthly dues and the improvement of regular control of their payment;
- the action to guarantee contributions from militants, supporters and other friends of the Party which must have a regular nature concerning concrete objectives or general needs, breaking routines and being bolder in contacts, defining in each organisation lists of comrades and friends to be approached and who is best able to do so;
The development of fundraising campaigns, on concrete issues or general needs such as “A day's wages for the Party” and the materialization of the objectives of the National Funding Campaign “The future has a Party”, ensuring its monitoring by leadership bodies at all levels and boosting revenue growth;
- the materialization of the contributions of elected officials and other comrades in public office, in compliance with the statutory principle of no benefit or detriment in the exercise of these positions, and the collection of contributions for participation in the polling stations, which has a special and distinctive meaning in the way Party members view their civic and political participation;
- the increase of the sale and circulation of the Party Press, Avante! and O Militante, ensuring the fulfilment of commitments when they are ordered;
- the stimulation of activities in the Party’s Work Centres, their assessment according to the needs and possibilities, and a continuing policy of conservation and profitability of Party assets.
4.10. International activity
In the period since the 20th Congress, the PCP carried out an intense international activity, holding, among other actions, diversified bilateral contacts with Communist parties and other progressive forces and participating in congresses, conferences, seminars, study visits, festivals and solidarity initiatives in various countries.
It contributed to the process of the International Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties, striving to safeguard basic principles of relationship between Communist parties and with unity in action in the international Communist and revolutionary movement.
It strove for the common Appeal “For a Europe of the workers and peoples” for the 2019 European Parliament elections, and to reaffirm and defend the principles of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) in the European Parliament.
It was present in several forums and meetings of a multilateral scope and of a solidarity and anti-imperialist character, promoted by Communist parties and other progressive forces, which took place in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Europe or in Asia, contributing to strengthen the anti-imperialist front.
In hosted, in Portugal, Parties from different countries and from several continents, notably the regular presence of dozens of delegations at the Avante! Festival, including with stands in its International Space.
It adopted public positions on multiple international issues and took the initiative to adopt joint positions by Communist parties. It sought to ensure regular information on its positions, namely through the English webpage on PCP’s website.
The PCP’s international activity and internationalist action should be guided by its contribution to strengthen the international Communist and revolutionary movement and to strengthen the anti-imperialist front, to uphold peace and sovereignty, internationalist solidarity, the rights of the workers and peoples, against exploitation and oppression, against fascism, for freedom, democracy, social progress and Socialism.
The PCP, with its history of almost 100 years, with its action, with its ideal and project, proves - as life is once again demonstrating - to be the necessary, indispensable and irreplaceable party. Resisting intimidation and blackmail, paving the way that Portugal needs, the PCP is vital for the workers, the people and the Portuguese homeland, in the struggle for peace, internationalist cooperation and solidarity, for a patriotic and left-wing alternative, for an advanced democracy with the values of April in the future of Portugal, against exploitation and oppression, for Socialism and Communism.