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Portugal: Boost for left as Left Bloc doubles its representation

Left Bloc's symbol.

By the Left Bloc, Portugal

International Viewpoint — Portugal’s parliamentary elections, held on September 27, 2009, have changed the political landscape. The Socialist Party (SP), which had an absolute majority in 2005 with 45% of vote, lost more than half a million votes and fell to 36.56%.

Even as the winner, it is in a minority in parliament, the only political force which lost seats in relation to 2005 (96 down from 121). The result for the SP is its lowest since 1991. This is undoubtedly the result of the anti-social policies of an arrogant absolute majority who chose to save the bankers from bankruptcy instead of establishing public policies for the banks; who passed an employment law which makes dismissals easier in a country that has nearly 600,000 unemployed, with half of them not receiving unemployment benefits and makes job insecurity the rule. A government which has waged war on teachers and civil servants like none before.

The liberal-centrist Social Democratic Party (PSD), while gaining three parliamentarians in relation to 2005, has however recorded one of its worst-ever scores. The beneficiary has been the right-wing People's Party (PP), which has become the third political force (whereas in 2005 it was in fourth place). The Communist Party has gone from third to fifth political force in terms of support.

The Left Bloc is the force that has had the biggest increase compared to 2005. More than half a million votes (557,109 in a country of just over 9 million voters), 192,679 more than in 2005, and from fifth to fourth biggest political force (third in a number of major cities). At the national level, The Left Bloc's score went from 6.38% to 9.85%, and the number of its MPs has doubled from eight to 16. In addition, while in 2005 Left Bloc deputies elected came from Lisbon (four), Porto (two) and Setubal (two), this time it had elected deputies from nine of the 20 districts: one each in Aveiro, Braga, Coimbra, Leiria, Santarem and Faro; one more in Porto and in Lisbon. In all, six women and 10 men.

The Left Bloc will now weigh even more in Portuguese political life and in the coming struggles, in parliament with its 16 deputies but also and especially in struggles, since we enjoy the confidence of more than half a million votes, the result of an intense campaign of continuous contact with workers and popular sectors and a clear anti-capitalist program with concrete alternative proposals to those of the Socialist Party and the PSD.

The three objectives the Left Bloc set for this campaign were all met:

1) to prevent a new absolute majority;

2) to increase the number of votes in relation to 2005;

3) to increase the number of MPs.

In parliament, the Left Bloc and the Communist Party have together 31 deputies, representing more than 18% of the votes. Never has there been such a result to the left of the Socialist Party.

The Socialist Party, in a minority in parliament, will be forced to choose between the proposals of the left, as we will present them arising out of our program and our mandate — among others, repeal of the employment law, a tax on large fortunes to finance social security — or join the PP on the reactionary right.

After these elections, the political framework is more polarised, right and left. The political and social struggle will intensify in future months. And the Left Bloc is stronger than ever.

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