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Report: Portugal on the brink of social, economic and political disaster

category iberia | economy | opinion / analysis author Thursday May 12, 2011 07:50author by Manuel Baptista - (personal capacity) Report this post to the editors

In Portugal, the situation is such as the big finance is unopposed, and had an easy job in forcing the government doing what they wanted. [Italiano]

Report: Portugal on the brink of social, economic and political disaster

In Portugal, the current situation is one where big finance is unopposed and has had an easy job in forcing the government to do what it wants.

In 2008 - in the midst of the international financial crisis- we learnt that there was a huge deficit in one Portuguese bank - BNP, a bank in which some henchmen of the Portuguese President (from the PSD party) were involved. It was brought to near bankruptcy by these crooks. The State (in the hands of another mafia, the PS) bought this bank and assumed its debts. This, on the pretext that a bankruptcy might trigger a very serious crisis, with a "domino effect", a loss of confidence in the Portuguese banking system, panic etc...

Now we have an all-time high percentage budget deficit due to this disastrous operation, amongst others.

For a decade now, Portugal had no real growth. Its endemic growth rate was only due to European market demand. As Europe sank into depression 3 years ago, the Portuguese suffered a severe crisis, with a sharp rise in unemployment rates.

All the government has done is PR management, without ever addressing the real problems of the Portuguese economy and society, mainly because it was caught in the contradiction of satisfying the higher ranks of the bourgeoisie and the demands of multinational capital but without much loss in popularity among their voters, the middle classes, the petit-bourgeoisie, higher-ranking civil servants, etc.

The country has been systematically downgraded by ratings agencies since September 2010, in parallel with speculators' attacks on Greece and Ireland. The Portuguese prime minister has always said that the situation was very different from that in Greece, that Portugal was in a good financial position and didn't need any international aid, etc. This was contradicted by the constant rise in interest rates, by the behaviour of the ratings agencies (Goldman Sachs, Standard & Poors, and others), for the profit of banks (national and international).

The banks are the clear winners: the bail-out was clearly intended to save the Portuguese banking system. Throughout the period from September 2010 until now, they obtained fresh money from the ECB at interest rates of 1.0 to 1.25%, and are lending money to the Portuguese State at rates of 6.5 to 10%. The Portuguese State has nearly been bankrupted by this mechanism. This has enabled the banks to push for the government to accept calls for IMF "aid".

The IMF's conditions are: 78 million, debt repayment over 13 years, with the initial 3 years only consisting of interest (the interest rate is not known yet). As usual it comes with a "structural adjustment programme", imposing severe cuts (from civil servant's salaries to pensions, from the NHS budget to savage cuts in State schools and universities) and privatisations. So harsh is this "therapy" that the patient will surely die of the "cure"...

Now the right-wing parties - including the so-called "socialist" party (which in reality has nothing to do with socialist or social-democratic ideology, but is just plain neo-liberal) - are disputing which is better in compliance with the diktat imposed on Portugal by the IMF, ECB and EU Commission...

On the left there is no progress, because both the Communist Party (PCP) and the Left Bloc (BE) are still ignoring the need to join forces and in any case don't seem to understand that the decisive field of this class battle is NOT elections, but the fight on the shop-floor, organizing and empowering the workers. This is far from clearly understood by the workers themselves. This lack of a class-struggle culture stems in part from the so-called "left wing" union /CGTP) practice. It is controlled by the PCP and the BE (in minority) and even the union leaders have no real class vision as is clear in their discourse and practice.

On one hand, we have reformist parties (CP and BE) on the other we have a disorganized youth that aspires to have a say in its own future. They proved it recently in a huge demo, last 12 March, but have not yet been able to build an autonomous social movement. They are already being used as electoral "argument", by left-wing parties...

Anarchists are not collectively present in the Portuguese class struggle. Their visible activities have no relevance whatsoever. They despise grassroots militancy in unions and their "activism" is either life-stylish or vanguard-elitist (often with an anarcho-syndicalist rhetoric). They are isolated and irrelevant, only "representing" dissent...).

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