Portugal

We are four years on from the historic formation of an apparently left government in Portugal, in which the Socialist Party (PS) has relied on the support of the Bloco de Esquerda (BE) and the Communist Party (PCP) to pass measures through parliament. Between them, the three parties have commanded a considerable majority in parliament, but the PS government would have fallen without the support of the parties to its left.

The Times recently published a survey of 885 property investors, undertaken by PwC and the Urban Land Institute, which placed Lisbon as the number one European hotspot for investment in 2019. The city had jumped up from eleventh place in the same survey the previous year.

On Thursday 25 April, celebrations took place all over Portugal to mark the 45th anniversary of the day the hated Estado Novo dictatorship was felled. In Lisbon, around 20,000 people marched in the annual parade of workers’ and youth organisations, while thousands more lined the pavements of Avenida da Liberdade to join in the festivities. We publish here a report of the event by our Portuguese comrades, along with the text of pamphlet they produced for the occasion. You can find more detailed analyses of the revolution here and ...

Recently, the bourgeois media, particularly in Europe, has been delighting in the “miraculous” turnaround of Portugal’s fortunes. Just seven years ago, the Portuguese economy was teetering on the brink. The country was heading for the kind of social upheaval that caused a pre-revolutionary situation in Greece, and led to an enormous mass movement in neighbouring Spain.

With just a few weeks in office, the Socialist Party (PS) government of Portugal has orchestrated yet another scandal in its history, with the main protagonist being the bankrupt bank “Banco Internacional do Funchal SA” (Banif).

Yesterday evening, 10th of November, the 11-day old government of the right-wing coalition in Portugal was ousted by the left-wing parties in parliament. On the day, the CGTP, the biggest trade union, called for a demonstration to take place outside parliament while discussion on the program presented by the minority government was taking place. I happened to be there on the day to experience the mood of the people: it was vibrant, joyful and promising. They had won a first battle.

Portuguese politics have become very interesting in recent weeks. The parliamentary elections of October 4th saw a shift to the left in society that reflects the discontent and radicalisation sowed by the crisis of capitalism in one of the countries that has been hardest hit by it.

This is a transcript of a speech given by Jorge Martín at the 2013 world school of the International Marxist Tendency. He deals with the events of the Portuguese revolution, its inner dynamics and how it was derailed along bourgeois democratic lines.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Portugal on Saturday, October 19th, against the proposed 2014 budget which includes yet another set of severe measures to make workers, pensioners, civil servants and working people in general pay for the crisis of capitalism.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Portuguese workers went on a 24 hour general strike. This is the fourth general strike in two years that the centre-right government has faced. Today’s strike though, was by far the largest show of strength by the unions in the past few years.

The recent ruling by the Portuguese Constitutional Court that four of the austerity measures in the government’s 2013 budget are unconstitutional is a major blow to the Portuguese ruling class. However, without the organisation of working people in defence of their rights, this ruling could mark a wave of devastating new attacks on ordinary Portuguese people. While we can celebrate the working class victory in the courts, we must realise that if the workers are to ultimately win the legal battle they, not the capitalist class, must be the ones making the laws.

One and a half million people took to the streets in 40 different cities in Portugal on March 2 in protest against austerity cuts and against the troika. This was one of the country's largest ever demonstrations on the same level as the one on September 15 and the huge mobilisations during the revolution in the 1970s.

The biggest demonstration in Portugal's history or, according to other estimates, the largest since one million people gathered in the streets of Lisbon on May 1st 1974 during the revolution. A huge human tide of hundreds of thousands of people, a million in total, came out on the streets of 40 cities and towns all over the country and overseas territories on Saturday, September 15. This was the response of the Portuguese people to the latest austerity package announced by the right wing government of Passos Coelho on September 7.

February 11 saw 300,000 people march in the Portuguese capital Lisbon against the reform of the labour law and the austerity measures proposed by the government as part of the bailout agreed with the troika. The CGTP trade union, which organised the demonstration under the slogan of “no to exploitation, inequality and impoverishment”, described it as the largest in 30 years.

A powerful general strike and massive demonstrations on November 24 was the answer of Portuguese workers to the austerity budget proposed by the right-wing governmnent of Pedro Passos Coelho. The troika approved the measures taken as part of the bail out package but demanded more cuts as the economy is forecasted to fall by 3% next year.

A reader from Portugal wrote to us asking our opinion on the vote of the BE members of parliament in favour of the European Union bailout loan for Greece. In our opinion this position is scandalous.