The Guardian 9 March, 2005

Big defeat for
conservatives in Portuguese elections

Early elections were held in Portugal on February 20th and resulted in the crushing defeat of the right-wing parties which had been in government for the last three years. Their vote slumped by about 12 percent resulting in them recording one of the lowest votes ever. A statement issued by the Portuguese Communist Party said that the vote indicated the deep discontent on the part of the people of Portugal with government policies and confirmed the correctness of the struggle against the policies of the conservatives and the demand for early elections as the first step to put an end to their destructive policies.

The big winners were the Socialist Party of Portugal which won an absolute majority gaining 119 seats out of the total of 226 seats. The Communist Party statement said that the Socialist Party "capitalised on the vast discontent against the conservative government. Thousands voted for the Socialist Party motivated by the wish to remove the conservatives from office".

However, the Communist Party statement says that the election of a Socialist Party government "is far from guaranteeing the political turnabout that many aspire to. The fact that it has a free hand and does not need to seek alliances and agreements with left parties is a worrying sign". The Party is not convinced that a Socialist Party government will fulfil "the expectations of the majority of the Portuguese people".

The Portuguese Communist Party formed an alliance with the Greens and the Democratic Intervention in the election and won more than 432,000 votes (7.57 percent) and came in third place. This left coalition will hold 14 seats and strengthened its parliamentary representation. The increased vote was a reversal of previous trends and contradicted the idea of some that the left was in "an irreversible decay".

Another grouping calling itself the Left Block also increased its vote and will hold 8 seats. The Communist Party said of this group that it "benefited mainly from the votes of many voters who were discontented with the right-wing parties and with the Socialist Party. Its vote may also correspond to a wish for change by many voters who, for several reasons, did not yet decide to make the more coherent and effective choice that a vote for the Communist Party-Green alliance represents".

The Left Bloc grouping immediately called for a referendum on the issue of abortion. However, holding a referendum gives new opportunities for the right-wing parties to air their backward views which would have been prevented given that a law on abortion could have been easily passed by the new parliament.

The Communist Party-Green parliamentarians will immediately move for legislation to repeal anti-labour laws, for an increase in pensions and the national minimum wage and for the removal of penalties for abortion.

The Party statement condemned the "war against terrorism" used by the US to consolidate its occupation of Iraq, to neutralise Palestinian resistance and to issue threats against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Party said that the new parliament "cannot forego a stand against intervention and war and must refuse, in Iraq as in Afghanistan and other part of the world, Portugal's involvement in the aggressive strategy of imperialism".

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