Portugal: “Voting for the far right is the result of decades of attacks on the legacy of the Carnation Revolution”

Portugal: “Voting for the far right is the result of decades of attacks on the legacy of the Carnation Revolution”

With what prospects will the leftist forces enter the battle of the upcoming European elections?

First of all, we must remember that after the 1974 revolution, the only ones who wanted to join Europe in Portugal were the rightists, liberals and conservatives, the orphans of the empire after the period of decolonization that followed the end of the dictatorship.

The Socialists joined them from 1976, as part of an openly anti-communist strategy. The application for membership in the European Community (1977), which the Communist Party and the rest of the left opposed, the negotiations until 1985 and accession in 1986, were the main arguments for attacking the 1976 Constitution, which was a text with a clear socialist orientation. The constitutional reforms that followed were aimed at abolishing their revolutionary content (agrarian reform, nationalization, social ownership, workers' control, etc.).

Why do you consider that the process of joining the European Community was synonymous with dismantling the “April conquests” and the fruits of the Carnation Revolution?

From the Consolidated Law (1986) to the Stability and Growth Pact (1997) within the framework of the Economic and Monetary Union, the Portuguese economy has witnessed a very intense process of privatization and dismantling of the productive system. Our country became dependent on abroad, which marked the beginning of two decades of stagnation and/or stagnation after the introduction of the single currency (in 2002).

The official speech of the Conservative Bloc imposes another reading of events: Portugal would have benefited greatly from European funds.

There is a narrative that remains dominant and reinforces the image of a “Europe of money,” which attributes the improvement in the quality of life of Portuguese to the so-called transfer of resources from the European Union to Portugal. This serves to hide another fact: the role played by building the welfare state in the past, especially in the areas of health and education. Because in reality, more than 20 years of the euro's existence have led to increasing inequality and an economic model based on financialization, instability, low wages, and specialization in sectors with low productivity (most notably tourism).

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This again drove skilled labor to migrate and attracted intensively exploited migrant workers. The social perception of the European Union finally changed in the eyes of many Portuguese with the horrific years of austerity imposed by the Troika (the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund), starting in 2011. Today, the Portuguese are more aware of the importance of the European Union. The real goal of European Union membership.

Based on this observation, what tools does the left have to defeat the far right at the ballot box?

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, it is important to return to what resistance against fascism means and what these historical upheavals mean, and to what we in Portugal call the “April conquests”. We must show those who say they are disillusioned with democracy that what is causing the social discontent, which has motivated so many far-right voices, is the result of decades of attacks on social rights, on the progressive agenda of the revolution and the Constitution. 1976. The question today is to mobilize those of us who fight for rights and social democracy against those who remain on the side of neoliberal destruction.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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