Pedro Guerreiro, Portuguese Communist Party: "We Never Had Any Illusions About The Socialists"

The Portuguese minimum wage in 2015 was 505 euros in 14 payments. Seven years later, after five years of more or less cordial agreement between the government of the Socialist Party (PS) with the Bloco de Esquerda (BE) and the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP), and another two of progressive disagreements, the basic salary is of 665 euros. It is little; This week, in the midst of rising fuel prices, filling the tank of a passenger car cost more than 100 euros. In the frustrated negotiations of the budgets for next year, the Socialists proposed raising it to 705. The Communists, to 805. There was no way to reach an agreement.

This example of the shopping list is just one of the constant and resounding disagreements that prevented the accounts from going forward, despite the ultimatum of the President of the Republic, the conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who this week plans to announce the date of the elections. In the direction of the PCP they explain that the differences are many and long-term. “The PS does not do left-wing politics. We never had any illusions,” summarizes Pedro Guerreiro, a member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the PCP.

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In the PCP of the 80s, the current of Eurocommunism was hardly felt. It is a party, in that sense, orthodox, with strong union muscle and a presence on the street. Guerreiro repeats several times during the interview: “We are guided by the defense of the rights of workers and the Portuguese people.” He also protests that he is blamed for an alleged negotiating inflexibility: “Wow. We have done nothing but be flexible. We have not wasted a single opportunity. But we cannot accept that needs are not met when the means exist.”

“The situation demands a global response,” says Guerreiro, who recalls the “policy of destruction” of the troika As a result of the financial crisis of a decade ago, only partially reversed, in his opinion, by the Government of Prime Minister António Costa: “An understanding was reached to recover rights, particularly of the most vulnerable population, but it was not a rupture “. Among the issues that led to the final disagreement, the disagreements regarding salaries in the public administration, “which has been losing purchasing power for 12 years,” or the “serious danger” of implosion of the National Health System, with the rout of professionals to the private because of bad wages. “They needed signals in another direction that the PS did not give,” he sums up.

The PCP does not like the word “jeringonza” that has come to designate the 2015 agreement between communists, the BE and the PS, a “derogatory” term that connects with the rejection of “the large economic and financial groups” of their influence. in general politics. “There was a tacit agreement that the communists could not participate in government solutions, an idea that they were excluded from democracy. That campaign has continued,” he criticizes. But the period allowed successes with his rubric, among which he points out the free school textbooks or the decrease in the price of metropolitan transport, which came to exceed 30% in the Lisbon area.

Guerreiro asks not to pay too much attention to the comparison with Spain. The political and economic history is not the same, it justifies. Even so, the coldness with which the PCP and the BE dealt with each other can strike, when in the neighboring country the PCE and Podemos, very imperfect counterparts, stand together in the elections. In fact, it is difficult for him to refer to the other party by name, and he refers to it on one occasion as “other leftist formations.” “It is an institutional deal, the conditions are not in place for another type of relationship,” he says, pointing out fundamental differences, such as positions vis-à-vis the European Union, with which the communists are very critical. “Institutions are built in the image of the great powers […] We cannot accept a subordinate position, “censorship.

The thesis that the working class can be tempted by far-right forces in a context of persistent loss of economic security does not concern the PCP, which continues to maintain a very active militancy. “We do not have elements that make us think about that.” He points out that the anticipated rise of forces like Chega [“Basta”] It responds more to a reaction from the right and the related media, which give space to organizations “that question the Constitution of the Republic, which basically is heir to the democratic project of the April Revolution”, and that only translates electorally, trusts, in transfers within the ideological bloc of the right.

Although the communists are critical of Rebelo de Sousa’s ordeal (“it would not be the first time that the budget has not been approved without elections,” he recalls), they remain on the line of resisting to condition the PS, whom they see coveting. the absolute majority. “If it was possible to regain rights, it was because the PS did not have a free hand. We will once again remind the people, with our means, that they are less than those of others.”

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