On 2 March, over 1.5 million people reclaimed Portugal’s streets, in what even the media has speculated may have been the country’s biggest ever demonstrations. With 800,000 in Lisbon, 400,000 in Porto, and tens of thousands more in over 30 cities, nationwide, the masses poured onto the streets, under the slogan “Screw the Troika – the people are the best rulers”. The marches gave an expression to the seething anger an ferment at the death spiral which the Troika’s puppet centre-right coalition government, led by Passos Coelho (conservative, PSD party), has imposed on the country through its vicious austerity policies.
The demonstrations sent a clear message to the Troika – EU, ECB and IMF – as their representatives visited Lisbon for the seventh time to oversee the brutal cuts imposed on the country. As well as the need to stop the Troika, hundreds of thousands in front of the finance ministry expressed their demand to bring down the government. A protester is quoted by Euronews.com: “I just want to tell Passos Coelho that I have the right to scream and show everyone how revolted I am at his incompetence, mediocrity and dishonesty – at everything.” Another one adds: “If the government pays attention to what is happening and understands that the people are against them, they should get out. If not, this won’t stop.”
The newspaper Publico quotes a demonstrator referring to Passos Coelho (which is not only the name of the Prime Minister, but also the Portuguese word for rabbit): “I’d rather have horse in my hamburgers, than rabbits [coelhos] in the government”.
These demonstrations, bringing together workers, the poor and solidiers in every town of the country showed that the Portuguese people are up for a fight, and determined to force this government and its policies from the scene of history.
Translate the anger into a strategy for victory
line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>A 24 hour general strike is needed as an immediate step towards an all out struggle to bring down the government.
line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Armenio Carlos, Secretary-General of CGTP (main trade union federation) is quoted from his speech on 2 March: “Today it is clear that this government has no political legitimacy, has no moral legitimacy, has no ethical legitimacy to continue to govern, because any visit, by any minister is followed with protests and demands for the resignation of the government. The government has became the problem that prevents the solution” (Euronews.com). However, Carlos is currently not giving a lead, to implement the steps necessary to bring down the hated politicians.
line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Alongside this, the mass left parties (Left Bloc and Communist Party, who already share almost 30% in polls) have been handed an historic responsibility to channel the movement through a political programme to end the misery of capitalism and austerity – a programme to refuse to pay the debt, no to austerity, nationalisation of the banks and commanding heights of the economy under workers’ control and management. Such a government could immediately inspire the struggles in Greece, Spain, Italy and all over Europe. It could link up for example with the Greek, Spanish and Italian workers in a joint battle to end the dictatorship of the Troika and the markets.