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Portugal

Portugal: Left Bloc debates call for a left government

Delegate votes during the Left Bloc's eighth national convention. Photo from www.bloco.org.

By Dick Nichols, Lisbon

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A spectre is haunting Portugal ― the spectre of Greece and of Syriza, its radical left party. All the powers of neoliberal Europe, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre.

Accompanied by representatives of German big business, Merkel ran the gauntlet of protesters in Lisbon for six hours on November 12. She congratulated Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho for his “courage” in applying austerity (a “success story”) and urged the country’s most unpopular political leader to stick to his guns.

Europe: Greece, Spain, Portugal – the arc of resistance to austerity hardens

 On September 25-26-27, 2012, up to 50,000 demonstrators tried to encircle the parliament, calling for the resignation of the government and declaring “democracy kidnapped”. There were violent clashes with police.

Read more by Murray Smith. Read more analysis of Greece, Spain, Portugal and France.

By Murray Smith

October 16, 2012 -- Frontline, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- It sometimes seems as if Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has been going on forever. But in fact it really only manifested itself in 2010, a result of the bailing out of private banks with public money and other public spending due to the crisis. And in May of that year Greece became the first country to ask for help and to receive so-called “aid” – really, it cannot be repeated too often, loans that must be paid back – from the now infamous "Troika", the IMF-ECB-European Commission.

Portugal's Left Bloc: 'The people now have a goal: resignation of the government'

A million people protested across Portugal on September 15, 2012.

Resolution of the national board of the Left Bloc of Portugal, September 22, 2012, passed unanimously.

[The following articles and documents first appeared in the October 2012 issue of International Viewpoint, magazine of the Fourth International.]

1. The gigantic demonstration on September 15, 2012, [see article below], which cannot be compared to any other mobilisation in recent decades, turns the page of Portuguese politics. This was the response of the social majority to the government offensive, adopting a clear position against the Troika and demanding a break with the policy of impoverishment, austerity and destruction. The demonstration by the people in the streets did not demand time to slow down austerity, or the protection of the Troika: it demanded the end of the Troika in Portugal.

This was a signal sent to all the oppositions, to the financial markets, to Germany's Angela Merkel and the  International Monetary Fund (IMF), to the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission.

Portugal: Left Bloc fires up to fight austerity

Left Bloc conference.

By Dick Nichols

May 22, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- When the 548 delegates to the seventh national convention of Portugal’s Left Bloc came together in a vast sports hall in Lisbon over May 7-8, they had two big questions to answer. The first was what alternative should they propose at the June 5, 2011, Portuguese elections to the €78 billion (about $103 billion) “rescue package” negotiated between the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (the “troika”) and the Socialist Party (PS) government of Prime Minister Jose Socrates?

The second was how to build greater unity among all those forces opposed to austerity — representing millions of Portuguese — so that a government of the left becomes thinkable in a country used to a back-and-forth shuffle of PS and Social Democratic Party (PDS) administrations?

The European workers' movement: dangers and challenges

In Portugal, November 2010 general strike called by the Communist Party-led CGTP and the Socialist Party-led UGT was massively supported, with 3 million strikers out of a workforce of 4.7 million.

By Murray Smith

March 6, 2011 -- New Socialist -- With the onset of the world economic crisis, the European workers' movement finds itself in a new phase, one that is replete with dangers and challenges. It is important to underline that we are in fact in a new situation and not just a continuation of the previous period.

Portugal: More austerity looms in 2011

General strike against austerity in Portugal, November 24, 2010.

By Raphie de Santos

January 4, 2011 -- Socialist Resistance -- A full financial bailout of Portugal involving the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) looks set to happen in the first half of 2011. This will involve severe austerity conditions being imposed on the Portuguese people by the ECB and IMF.

The indications are clearly there as at the end of 2010 Fitch joined the two other credit rating agencies to downgrade Portugal’s debt to A+, which is just above junk status. They are concerned that the current account deficit running at 9% is unsustainable with the ruling Socialist Party unable to impose the effective 4% budget cuts in 2011 that they outlined at the end of 2010.

After Copenhagen: Can we save the world? Video: Is the climate sick of us?

Ian Angus interviewed by Esquerda.net during the conference O Clima Farto de Nos? (Is the climate sick of us?), held in Lisbon, March 26-27. The three questions, shown in text in Portuguese, are: Is the climate sick of us? What must be done internationally about this situation? What message would you like to give to the Portuguese people?The video, which is in English with Portuguese subtitles, has also been posted on the website of Portugal's Left Bloc, and on the Esquerda.net channel on YouTube.

 

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Portugal: What's behind the success of the Left Bloc?

 

 

By Raphie de Santos

Portugal’s Left Bloc has achieved a major breakthrough in the last five months. It polled nearly 11% and 10% respectively in the recent European and parliamentary legislative elections in June and September 2009. For a party that is firmly established outside of left social democracy this is a major achievement. How did it happen?

Its success is owed to a combination of objective and subjective factors. The objective factors are rooted in Portugal’s 20th century history while the subjective factors are linked to how the Left Bloc was formed and how it operates and engages with people in Portugal. The left in Britain and particularly in England can learn from the development and practice of the Left Bloc.

Positive developments in the European left

By Ian Angus

October 7, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- LeftViews recently published an article by Alex Callinicos, a central leader of Britain’s Socialist Workers Party (SWP), on the state of the left in Europe. While conceding that there have been some gains, overall the picture he painted was dire.

Callinicos is an insightful writer on leftwing politics in Europe, and much of his analysis rings true. I’m certainly not going to try to offer a different analysis from my vantage point well west of the Atlantic [in Canada].

But by itself, his article might leave Socialist Voice readers with a picture of unrelieved gloom, when in fact there are some bright spots of note. In Germany and Portugal, leftwing parties made modest but important gains in last month’s elections, while in France and England we’re seeing constructive steps towards greater unity on the left.

Germany

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.

Portugal: Where is the Left Bloc going?

On June 2-3, 2007 the Fifth National Convention of the Left Bloc took place in Lisbon. Since its creation in 1999, this unitary organisation of the anti-capitalist Left in Portugal has strongly consolidated itself and has established a presence in the country. Today it has become a significant force, with 4200 members, an active presence in struggles and social movements, as well as 350 local councillors and eight members of parliament. The following interview with Francisco Louça was conducted on July 7, 2007. It was conducted by Jean Batou of the Swiss organisation SolidariteS.

Q. The Left Bloc is a pluralist party of the socialist Left. How does it define itself in relation to the hard core of the socialist program, in the strong sense of the term, i.e. to the socialisation of the large-scale means of production, distribution, credit, etc? How do you tackle the key question of property in your program? Is it possible to refound an anti-capitalist left without taking a clear position on this question?

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