Portugal - Bloco d'Esquerda EN
To save a bankrupt private bank and pay ever increasing interests of the national debt after the 2008 crisis, the Portuguese government (Socialist Party, PS) implemented 3 austerity plans (PEC), cutting salaries and pensions, raising taxes and destroying public services, such as health and transport.
The 4th PEC, presented in March 2011, lead to the fall of this government, while the IMF, BCE and CE troika were called for "help", since markets were lending money with impossible rates. During the electoral campaign an agreement with very severe austerity measures, similar to the Greek agreement, is reached with this troika.
After the social democrats (PSD) and the Christian-Democrats (CDS-PP) won the last elections in June, this new government thinks that the troika agreement is not enough and decided to, for example, reduce salaries of public workers in 20% by removing vacation and Christmas subsidies, impose 30 minutes of unpaid work to private workers, reduce unemployment subsidies, legalize a new kind of precarious work contract, facilitate dismissal of workers, and privatize water services and part of the national television. Many of these measures were already announced and will be voted on the 11th of November.
Since these announcements there is an increasing discontentment of the population. On the 1st of October, 130 thousand people in Lisbon and 50 thousand in Oporto joined in a protest organized by the CGTP (the largest trade union federation, where the Portuguese communist party has a major influence). There was also a very meaningful demonstration on the 15th of November, responding to an international call that came from the spanish "acampadas", gathering almost 100 thousand in Lisbon and 20 thousand in Oporto. This was organized by a social movement composed by various left groups and independents and showed the existence of a new social actor, one that will unlikely show up in a protest called by a trade union federation with an orthodox communism profile, but is nevertheless willing to participate in a protest against austerity and in favor of a new democratic system that serves the interests of the majority of the population. This is a good follow up, after in the 12th of March (when the 4th PEC was presented) 400 thousand demonstrated in many cities in Portugal (300.000 in Lisbon 80.000 in Oporto), organized by the social movement and with a less radicalized manifest.
Now there is a general strike scheduled for the 24th of November, the third since the Portuguese revolution in 1974 to be called by the two main trade union federations (CGTP and UGT). A recent poll shows that 63% of the population is in favor of this strike, and 80% are against this budget and the cuts in vacation and Christmas subsidies. 50% think that social protests are needed.
Bloco de Esquerda went from 16 to 8 members of parliament in the last national elections. Many reasons are pointed, but the main reason may be the lack of hope that emerged from the arrival of the troika and the sense that no left alternative could change the austerity fate. In this scenario, the political committee of Bloco has been under several attacks. The morenist minority inside Bloco already announced that they are leaving Bloco and will form their own party after March 2012.
Meanwhile, many meetings of the majority are occurring around the country in order to make an adequate reflection about several main subjects, like our position about the crisis in Europe and the euro, the new social movements, our policy of alliances and the role of tendencies inside Bloco. Meanwhile, the militants of Bloco de Esquerda and APSR continue to be compromised with the social movement, being indispensable in the several mass protests that have been occurring in the streets.