The Portuguese coalition government is on the brink of collapse. Following a colossal general strike on 27 June (see also "5th general strike in 3 years to bring down Coelho government"), the resignation of two high profile ministers - Vitor Gaspar, hated Finance Minister responsible for the coalition’s brutal austerity budgets, and Paolo Portas, Foreign Minister and leader of the minor coalition party, the Christian Democratic (CDS) - has put the government on the brink. All ministers from Portas’ CDS then declared their own resignation, and emergency talks have opened between the coalition partners to try to maintain the fragile coalition. The pro-capitalist parties, PP and PSD, are under huge pressure and involved in fierce in-fighting. The Portuguese stock-markets are falling and the yield on the ten-year government bond temporarily climbed above eight percent.
There might also be attempts at a so callled "palace solution" in Portugal: a solution imposed from the presidential palace to try to implement a national government, including the PS (so called Socialist Party) without even calling new elections.
The PS is heading the opinion polls at the moment. SR (Socialismo Revolucionario - CWI in Portugal) warns that the so-called ‘Socialist’ Party (PS) clearly represents no alternative: it signed the Memorandum with the Troika in the first place and defends the very same class interests as the current government does. Like the rest of the old international ‘social democracy’, the PS is a party with “socialist” façade but with pro-capitalist, often neo-liberal policies. While calling for new elections, the leader of the Partido Socialista, Seguro, has just again re-assured the bosses and the Troika that he will accomplish the Troika agreement.
The PCP (Portuguese Communist Party) again organised a rally yesterday, 3 July, in Lisbon and the CGTP (trade union confederation) calls for a rally at the Presidential Palace at Belem to demand the fall of the government.
Intervening in the protests and demonstrations of the last days, SR is calling on trade unions and social movements to organise immediately a general strike for another push to bring down the government and not to allow a mere re-shuffling of posts between pro-capitalist politicians. SR therefore demands new elections, but also emphasises the need to organise assemblies in all workplaces and neighbourhoods, build committees of struggle and link them on all levels, bringing activists, workers, unemployed and the youth together to discuss and debate an alternative socialist programme to the misery of austerity and capitalism.
This could provide an active basis for the united front of the PCP (Communist Party), the LB (Left Bloc), the trade unions and social movements, which SR is arguing for. Such assemblies, as well as democratically elected committees, are also necessary to build support and a basis for a government in the interest of the working class and the poor. SR argues that the movement and the left, especially the PCP and LB, have to adopt revolutionary socialist policies to win the support of the masses for such a government to fight to end the capitalist crisis.
Below, we publish a short declaration by Socialismo Revolucionario (SR, CWI in Portugal) on the tasks of the left at this conjuncture.
As the coalition collapses before our eyes, the role of the Left in this moment…
FOR A UNITED FRONT OF THE LEFT TO FIGHT FOR A WORKERS’ AND YOUNG PEOPLE’S ALTERNATIVE!
The Communist Party, the Left Bloc and the trade union and social movements must unite, under a minimum program of socialist measures to put an end to austerity and combat the world crisis of capitalism.
Vítor Gaspar (Finance minister) and Paulo Portas (state and foreign affairs’ minister, leader of CDS), couldn’t withstand the task of implementing the austerity policies which national and international capitalism, through the Troika, demand to implement at all costs. The struggle of workers and the people, brutally affected by these policies, the constitutional barriers and the internal instability of the coalition, due to the loss of its social base of support, lead to the resignation of Vítor Gaspar, immediately followed by Paulo Portas, because of a so called disagreement with the nomination of Maria Luísa Albuquerque (a state-secretary involved in speculative gambling in public companies) to the Finance Office. In reality, it is due to the perception that the political cost of supporting government policy would be too heavy for both Portas and CDS-PP, in face of local elections in October. This is another proof of the complete disorientation of the ruling class, which cannot find solutions to the crisis of capitalism. Still, despite the resignation of the government’s main partner, its fall is not assured, and a true alternative to the policy it supports, much less.
What is the role of the Left in this decisive moment?
Firstly, we think that the task facing the Left (PCP, LB, trade-union and social movements) is to guarantee the fall of the government through mass mobilization. We can’t tolerate this government another day! If the government doesn’t resign, or is not dismissed by the President of the Republic, today, a new General Strike should by called for immediately, with mass demonstrations called throughout the country, with the clear demand for the fall of the government and that new elections should be called. We don’t accept palatial “solutions”! Meanwhile we must mobilize ourselves immediately to Marquês de Pombal square, at 9pm (Thursday, 4 July) with this very same demand.
Government out! Troika out! For a government of working people!
Secondly, we think it is the responsibility of the Left to present itself as a real alternative to the policy of the Troika, internally and externally, that fights for power in the next elections. With PCP and LB having systematically scored, in the last polls, more than 20% of the votes, we defend the urgent need of building an United Front of the Left, trade-unions and social movements, around a socialist programme that answers the current crisis of capitalism, for example: cancellation of all austerity imposed by this government the previous so called “socialist”; the assumption that the debt is unpayable and therefore its payment should be cancelled; that the resources of society should be at its service and not in private hands subjugated to the logic of profit, which means that the key sectors of the economy (banks, energy, transports, fishing industry, agriculture, etc.) should be nationalized under the democratic control of workers and consumers, to guarantee that tey are planned according to the needs of the majority, not the profit of a minority.
Government, Troika, OUT!
For a United Front of the Left to fight for for a Workers and Youth alternative!