Special interview with Pedro Guerreiro, Member of the European Parliament for the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP)
ICP, 10th March 2016
ICP: How has been the political and economic situation in Portugal since the last elections?
Pedro Guerreiro: The right wing government had been governing Portugal for about four years which gave them the chance to intensify the exploitation of the Portuguese workers and launch an assault on the income of our people. With the intensification of the right policy the economic situation in our country has become a disaster. During these four years the workers and the Portuguese people have been involved in a very important and effective struggle defending their rights, their wages, the interest of the country against the foreign interference of the EU, IMF, the so-called Troika, the big capital of Portugal as well as foreign big capital. The right wing government responded to this struggle with is brutal policy. In this framework, the country went to the polls on last 4th of October. The outcome of the election created a new situation in our country because the right wing parties lost their majority in the parliament and because it was possible to find a solution to defeat the right wing government.
Our party, PCP, made a decisive contribution to achieve the defeat of this right wing government, reaffirming their defeat in the elections. In this sense, it was possible to reach an understanding with the Socialist Party on two main ideas: First, to stop the destructive policy, the dangerous process for the Portuguese democratic regime that the right wing parties had been carrying out with the support of the President of the Republic. Second, an understanding on important measures, even if limited and partial, to reverse negative measures that have harmed our people and workers during the last four years. In the list of the measures we have the return of stolen income of Public Administration workers, the increase of the minimum wage, the defence of the public system of health, education and other measures which answer the struggle that the workers and the Portuguese people have made in the last years. The measures achieved are the result of this struggle. Today, there is a socialist government with its own program and the commitment to implement these measures. We have to note that it is not the program of PCP. The solution that was achieved is neither a coalition government, nor even a left government in PCP’s evaluation. There is also no agreement at the parliamentary level with the Socialist Party. What we achieved is an understanding of those objectives which are limited but very important for our people. We are now carrying out the struggle not only to reverse the measures that had been taken by the implementation of the right wing policy during the last years, but also to achieve better living conditions and new rights. It is an important moment to show that it is worth fighting.
It is very important to prove that the right wing policy and the measures which have been imposed on the Portuguese workers and people are not inevitable. It also has a very important ideological and political value. Because as you are aware, the EU tries to impose that there is no other possibility, no other option but the right wing policy, no alternative to the EU neoliberal policies and the dominance of its big powers, without sovereignty, without any rights, without the people being able to decide their own future. And this is very important since it shows a way to confront the inevitability of the right wing policy.
For PCP, taking action means not only struggling to defend the rights and living conditions of our people but also to project our political and programmatic proposal. Because it shows that the PCP fights not only for reversing the measures but also for going forward. It is not enough what we have achieved so far. It is very important but we need to move forward. Therefore we should continue to fight for a rupture with the right wing policy that has been carried out for almost 40 years against all the achievements of the April Revolution in our country between the years 1974-76 – and for a patriotic and left alternative and policy.
This alternative policy puts in question the instrumentality of the foreign public debt as a way to steal what we produce in our country. This alternative policy requires a negotiation on the public debt – on the interest, amounts and terms – and also the necessity of the country to control the financial sector, to confront the impositions of the EU and Euro. The rupture with the foreign impositions would be impossible with the right wing policy. The alternative policy also underlines the importance of the promotion of the national production and the creation of employment, the respect of the labour rights, the improvement of wages, the defence of the social rights and the public services, a tax policy without putting pressure on the workers but on big capital. An alternative policy that will affirm our national sovereignty against the interests of big capital. This is the patriotic and left wing policy which is in the framework to open the way to build an advanced democracy with the values of our April Revolution, on the way to socialism.
In Portugal we had a revolution which challenged and destroyed the dominance of the big capital with the process of nationalizations in our country, gave power to the workers and conducted an important land reform in the centre and in the south of our country. The Portuguese revolution had achieved important social, economic, political transformations after 48 years of fascist dictatorship. That was a very big change.
Although the land reform was destroyed and the process of privatisation advanced, important achievements continued to be a reality for our people, and the democratic regime achieved with the revolution remains enshrined in the Constitution. Even after 7 revisions, our Constitution still has the same structure of the Constitution of the April Revolution. In the preamble of our Constitution it says that the future of Portugal is socialism. This constitution was approved on the 2nd of April in 1976. So we will commemorate this year the 40th anniversary of the April Constitution underlining the importance of the defence of the current Constitution of our country because it is a progressive, defending the rights of the people and the workers. The knowledge of our recent history and of our national reality is important to understand the meaning of our Party’s program that defends democracy on the way of socialism in our country.
ICP: You have participated the Working Group meeting in Istanbul? What are your reflections?
PG: We think that the Working Group has the mission to contribute for the continuity of the International Meeting of the Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP). This is important because it is a place where the CWPs can share not only their own experiences, analyses, reflections about the realities of their countries, but also about the international situation. We value this space as a contribution for the improvement of the international relations of the CWPs and its convergent and common action. After the 17th IMCWP, which was also held in Istanbul last November, we continued to contribute to these processes and participate in the decision on the next IMCWP, which will be held in Vietnam, hosted by the Vietnam Communist Party (VCP). We thank the Communist Party of Turkey for the WG meeting and for the opportunity to reaffirm the solidarity with the struggle of the people of the Middle East, of Syria and Turkey.