This Friday, the Socialist party of Portugal concluded coalition talks with the smaller Communist Party of Portugal and the Left Bloc party with a joint agreement, signaling the end to a short-lived conservative government.
The Conservative party had won the most seats in the most recent election, but came short of a parliamentary majority. While they say they are “permanently ready to compromise with the Socialists,” such compromise appears improbable at this point and the Prime Minister has acknowledged they will likely be forced out.
The Communist Party of Portugal is a traditional Marxist-Leninst party founded in the 1920’s which believes in using dialectical materialism as the basis for government decision making.
Similarly, the Left Bloc was founded by a collection of Trotskyists, Maoists, and dissidents of the Socialist party. It was responsible for writing the first domestic violence law in Portugal, and was instrumental in passing civil rights legislation including protections to prevent discrimination on the basis of racism, xenophobia and homophobia as well as worker protection laws.
The two leftist parties were courted by the moderate left Socialist party, and while the Socialist leader stated that they’d stick to EU budget rules, the Communist Party and Left Bloc promised to ease austerity by raising the minimum wage and reverse cuts to social security and pensions.
The governing ambitions of this new coalition may yet be foiled by the Portuguese President, who can give the Conservative leadership permission to be an interim, lame-duck government until the next elections. It remains to be seen if he will agree to allow the majority coalition a chance to form a new government.
It also remains to be seen if the Communists and Left Bloc will be able to carry out their campaign promises of easing austerity, or if they will fall the way of Syriza in Greece. Certainly, there is much less foreign pressure on Portugal than was on Greece as Portugal has already paid back its IMF loans from its 2011 bailout.
However, 100 bourgeois business entrepreneurs signed a manifesto complaining that a left wing government would increase economic instability, especially since some of the parties involved in the coalition are opposed to private property.
For now, we can only hope that this new coalition will be able to carry out an effective leftist agenda that will serve the people of Portugal.