Portugal

Tens of thousands of people marched in Portugal on Saturday, October 19th, against the proposed 2014 budget which includes yet another set of severe measures to make workers, pensioners, civil servants and working people in general pay for the crisis of capitalism.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Portuguese workers went on a 24 hour general strike. This is the fourth general strike in two years that the centre-right government has faced. Today’s strike though, was by far the largest show of strength by the unions in the past few years.

The recent ruling by the Portuguese Constitutional Court that four of the austerity measures in the government’s 2013 budget are unconstitutional is a major blow to the Portuguese ruling class. However, without the organisation of working people in defence of their rights, this ruling could mark a wave of devastating new attacks on ordinary Portuguese people. While we can celebrate the working class victory in the courts, we must realise that if the workers are to ultimately win the legal battle they, not the capitalist class, must be the ones making the laws.

One and a half million people took to the streets in 40 different cities in Portugal on March 2 in protest against austerity cuts and against the troika. This was one of the country's largest ever demonstrations on the same level as the one on September 15 and the huge mobilisations during the revolution in the 1970s.

The biggest demonstration in Portugal's history or, according to other estimates, the largest since one million people gathered in the streets of Lisbon on May 1st 1974 during the revolution. A huge human tide of hundreds of thousands of people, a million in total, came out on the streets of 40 cities and towns all over the country and overseas territories on Saturday, September 15. This was the response of the Portuguese people to the latest austerity package announced by the right wing government of Passos Coelho on September 7.

February 11 saw 300,000 people march in the Portuguese capital Lisbon against the reform of the labour law and the austerity measures proposed by the government as part of the bailout agreed with the troika. The CGTP trade union, which organised the demonstration under the slogan of “no to exploitation, inequality and impoverishment”, described it as the largest in 30 years.

A powerful general strike and massive demonstrations on November 24 was the answer of Portuguese workers to the austerity budget proposed by the right-wing governmnent of Pedro Passos Coelho. The troika approved the measures taken as part of the bail out package but demanded more cuts as the economy is forecasted to fall by 3% next year.

A reader from Portugal wrote to us asking our opinion on the vote of the BE members of parliament in favour of the European Union bailout loan for Greece. In our opinion this position is scandalous.

Portuguese capitalism is one of the sick men of Europe. The "cure" the capitalists have in mind involves severe attacks on wages and working conditions. But now a backlash is taking place with huge strikes and demonstrations shaking the country, which is also producing radicalisation on the left.

Friday, March 2, witnessed a huge mobilisation of the Portuguese working class with 150,000 workers on the streets of Lisbon protesting against the “centre-left” Socialist government's economic policies. Not since the glorious days of the revolution of the 1970s have we seen such a mobilisation.

"Capitalism is dead in Portugal" wrote the Times in 1975. And yet today it lives. How was it able to survive? What lessons can we learn from the Portuguese Revolution of 1974?