Monday, January 25, 2021

Portugal Election 2021: Communist Party leader Jerónimo de Sousa comments on the results

Sunday's presidential election in Portugal was marked by a high rates of abstention and a substantial victory of the reactionary forces. Incumbent President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, supported by the Social Democratic Party and the conservative People's Party, was re-elected with a majority of 60.70%, while the candidate of the far-right, nationalist Chega party, André Ventura, came third with 11.90% of the votes. 

The Portuguese Communist Party's candidate, current member of the EU Parliament, João Ferreira collected 4.32 percent of the votes in what can be seen as a rather disappointing result. 

In a statement concerning the result of the presidential elections, the General Secretary of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) Jerónimo de Sousa pointed out the following:

1. The reelection, on the first round, of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa reflects the expected outcome of an elaborate promotion of this candidate which, besides the unique advantage resulting from the exercise of Presidential functions, benefited from the fabrication of a studied unanimity based on a methodically and continually promoted campaign.

This result creates the real possibility that, beyond the rhetoric, the now reelected President of the Republic may exercise a second mandate that will be even more explicitly aligned with the right-wing goals, interests and agenda, which were always present in important decisions that he took in exercising his powers.

2. At the same time, from these elections emerges the distinctive importance and significance of the candidacy of João Ferreira, a candidacy which, like no other, placed the value of work and the workers, of public services and freedom and democracy at its core and which, like no other, gave content and meaning to what the Constitution of the Republic represents, as a reference for a policy of social progress, of guarantee and materialization of rights, which can assert Portugal as a developed and sovereign country.

The candidacy that asserted the Values of April, which are embodied [in the Constitution] as a source of energy and solutions for the country’s structural problems; which embodied the exposure of injustice, exploitation and class options that are the root of favouring the big economic and financial groups, which exposed the various dimensions of the onslaught against the democratic regime which is promoted by the most reactionary sectors of the Portuguese society and which, in a clear-cut way, identified the shortcomings and wrong options of the current President of the Republic. A candidacy which asserted national sovereignty and interests, which are inseparable from the country’s right to its own development. A candidacy which always kept up a high level of political debate, focused on what was at stake in these elections, with the strength of clarity, serenity, rigour and conviction, courage and confidence.

3. The votes for João Ferreira’s candidacy, although falling short of what was required to give a distinctive expression to these elections and what was at stake in them, reflect a similar result, with a slight progress, in relation to that obtained by the candidate supported by the PCP at the previous Presidential elections.

It was a result that was obtained in a context that is marked by circumstances of public health which limited the extent and scope of action to clarify and mobilize, and in which ideologically adverse elements were present, with a campaign that was media-centered. It was a result achieved with the prevalence of factors of dispersion, with the promotion given to secondary aspects, at the expense of what is essential, and the unwarranted centrality given to false «races for second place».

It should be noted that there was support from voters who had never before supported a candidate proposed by the PCP, but also, and in a scale that has yet to be fully assessed, transfer of votes to the candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, resulting from the dramatization of the possibility of a second round which many wanted to avoid.

Among other factors, there was the impact of a significant abstention among diverse sectors of the population, resulting from the epidemic situation and the scare-mongering regarding the risk of going to vote which marked recent weeks.

The high rates of abstention that were registered, and which were increased by the epidemic, were inflated by the fear-mongering and sense of insecurity which some actively promoted and disseminated.

Without illuding the high rates of abstention, the way in which the actual voting during election day took place belied and, most importantly, defeated the manoeuvres and projects of those who, with the pretext of the epidemic and falsely invoking public health, sought to impose a State of Exception, postpone the elections and review the Constitution of the Republic.

The candidates who embodied the most reactionary expressions, associated with revanchist big capital – André Ventura and Tiago Mayan - had a result which is inseparable from, but even so falls short of, the deliberate promotion and centrality which some gave them.

4. I convey from here a greeting to all those who contributed with their activity to build a campaign of clarification and direct contact which, in each locality, at the gates of each company, in each initiative, were the visible face of a candidacy which has a collective project. To all those who expressed their support for the candidacy of João Ferreira, many of whom supporting for the first time a candidate presented by the PCP, among them many with different political positions and views, I reaffirm that this support and this strength will be committed to defend and raise the workers’ and the people’s living standards, to assert a developed Portugal of progress and social justice.

The country’s worsening economic and social situation, which were the context in which these elections were now held. Confirms the need and urgency of responding to the problems with which the country is confronted. The epidemic’s more recent evolution and the problems and disquiet which it gives rise to, the use that is being made of it to impose an agenda of limiting rights and of social regression, require a determined policy of raising the workers’ wages and valuing their rights, protecting employment and living standards, effectively supporting the micro, small and medium companies which are confronted with an acute drop in their activity, and the response to the difficulties confronting the professionals and promoters of the cultural sector.

The absence of a clear response by the Government to the extent and scale of the problems that exist, open the door to instrumentalization by reactionary agendas and to the justification of anti-democratic projects that target the Constitution and inspire backward forces and projects which PSD, CDS and their reactionary surrogates are taking advantage of to try and challenge the National Health Service and public services in general, workers’ rights, the exercise of rights, freedoms and guarantees.

As we have stressed, all the support that was now expressed for João Ferreira will be added to give more strength to the activity and struggle that lie ahead, in order to respond to the country’s problems, safeguard the living standards of the workers and the people, defend rights, build a more just, developed and sovereign Portugal.