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We will ensure the agreement is followed to stop poverty increasing

“Get them out of there” was the message from a country tired of being misled and unable to take any more poverty. And we have answered that message. By Catarina Martins.
Photo by Paulete Matos

Some people voted on 4 October believing that the surcharge would be returned and the money taken from them in tax reimbursed. Some found redemption for the sacrifices they had made in promises of growth in the economy. Some thought that the suffocation of schools and the NHS would be countered by a deficit that was finally under control.

The right is so dedicated to repeating ad nauseam its theory that the government is illegitimate, as if some elected MPs do not have the same legitimacy to form a government solution. The right has spoken a great deal about illegitimacy in this debate so it is strange that it has not found even a second to discuss the electoral fraud that was its election campaign.

Does it not have a word to say on the surcharge that won’t actually be repaid, that in the end was all a lie? Nothing on the stagnating economy and the lack of means to bring unemployment down after all the announcements of a recovery that never took place and all the sacrifices that it imposed? Not a word about the failure to meet the deficit target or the continuing problems with the financial system or the debt that has tripled even after everything it put the country through?

The numbers that have come out are not a surprise to the Left Bloc. As we have said from the start: it was propaganda and lies. This official public confirmation of what was already clear doesn't reassure us. We don't like bad news for the country even when it shows that we are right. But it is yet another sign of the real need for a government solution to drive out the PSD and the CDS and stop an increase in poverty for the country.

“Get them out of there” was the message from a country tired of being misled and unable to take any more poverty. And we have answered that message.

The agreement made for a majority solution that stops poverty increasing is not just based on driving out the right-wing parties, although that is also important. It is based on real commitments to rebuilding labour rights, recovering salaries and pensions, protecting the welfare state and stopping privatisation.

The Left Bloc is as committed to making this solution work as it was to creating it. Unambiguously, but also without yielding, we will ensure that the agreement is met to stop poverty increasing.

And in the same frank way we have taken part in building this solution, and with the same dedication with which we will defend it every day, we also undertake not to abdicate our own plans. Doing that would mean leaving behind the strength that made this agreement possible. It was those who voted for change and strengthened the Left Bloc with their votes that created a change in the relationship between the forces in Parliament and opened the way to hope that reinforces the commitment underlying the plan to stop an increase in poverty.

It is in honour of the commitment we have made to every one of those people that we continue to defend access to unemployment benefits for all unemployed people, an increase in the lowest pensions to at least the national minimum wage, and a significant increase in the capacity for public and private investment to create employment. All this even though it has not been possible to find agreements on proposals that are essential to the Left Bloc, which is only natural considering the PS’ very different stances on these matters.

We know and have always said that this journey will require a restructuring of public debt to stop the huge flow of resources out of the country and to restore minimum levels of justice to the economy. In fact, even without a plan to recover income and investment, restructuring the debt seems inevitable to us. The weight of debt on the Portuguese economy is unsustainable. Ignoring it would be irresponsible and this is why we will strive to study real solutions to make Portuguese external debt sustainable, which is an essential condition for sovereignty and the development of the economy.

Similarly, the financial system continues to pose a risk to the country that we cannot ignore. And at a time when we know about the difficulties facing Banif and Novo Banco, the priority must be not repeating the mistakes of the past. Yesterday, the Left Bloc MP Mariana Mortágua questioned the Minister of Finance, Mário Centeno, about this issue. The government cannot hide behind the Bank of Portugal and the Bank of Portugal cannot continue to silently hand larger and larger bills to Portuguese taxpayers. Seeing Sérgio Monteiro, the former minister for privatisations, submit Novo Banco restructuring plans to Brussels that are unknown to anyone in Portugal is too reminiscent of the past to provide any guarantees for the future.

One thing is for certain: our determination to defend a government that is able to stop an increase in poverty will be matched by our demand for clear accountability on the financial system and an unwavering defence of the interests of the state and the public purse against a banking sector and regulator that have failed too many times.

The right cannot find any kind of ambiguity in the Left Bloc’s statement regarding the commitment it has made to the PS and to the whole country. Refusing to hide problems is not a source of political instability. Hiding them, as the right has always done, is what has made people's lives permanently unstable.

A change in policy also needs this. Following a new path that is able to break away from the increasing poverty to which the right subjected the country and responding to the entire country’s hope for a more dignified future requires commitment and clarity.

The Left Bloc has not and will not shy away from any commitment to recovering income from work or defending the welfare state. That is the work ahead for this legislature.

Translated by Tom Williams

Sobre o/a autor(a)

Coordenadora do Bloco de Esquerda. Deputada. Atriz.
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