The Portuguese left at the risk of division

Editorial of the “World”. For left-wing European opinion, the government led in Portugal by the socialist Antonio Costa was an example and a hope: since 2015, the Social Democrats of the PS, allied to two far-left parties, the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP ) and the left bloc (Bloco de Esquerda, BE), had demonstrated their ability to pull the country, severely affected by the 2008 financial crisis, out of financial austerity, to revive the economy and to initiate a marked social policy by increasing wages, pensions and tax reform. Their remarkable management of the health crisis due to Covid-19, in particular Portugal’s first place in the world for the vaccination rate, is widely welcomed.

This fine balance collapsed on Wednesday, October 27, when the PCP and BE deputies abandoned the Socialist Prime Minister by voting, with the right-wing and far-right parties, against the finance bill, alleging d ” a lack of ambition in terms of wage increases, public health and rent control. This vote, which marks a break after six years of union of the left, leads to the dissolution of Parliament, which could be pronounced by the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, from Thursday, November 4, leading to the organization of elections. legislative in January 2022.

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From the outset, the alliance, unprecedented since the end of the dictatorship in 1974, of enemy brothers of the left, the PCP and the BE, the Portuguese counterpart of La France insoumise (LFI), had been a miracle. In 2015, she came to power thanks to a lowonça, a “tip”: while the center-right was in the majority, the support without participation of the far left had allowed Mr. Costa to form a government. Renewed in the legislative elections of 2019, the formula provided proof that a left-wing coalition could stably govern a country of the European Union.

A highly risky scenario

The current divorce, it could respond to pure considerations of political strategy: the two extreme left parties, in decline, have analyzed that their participation in the government alienates them from the voters and that they could remake themselves. health during early elections; as for the Socialist Party, criticized for having had too little dialogue with its partners, it would hope to win an absolute majority by placing the responsibility for the crisis on “irresponsible” allies.

A situation chosen or suffered, the break-up of the alliance of the Portuguese left is a highly risky scenario. The right, itself in a difficult position, could be tempted to ally itself with an extreme right which has the wind in its sails. Already, polls give the far-right Chega (“that’s enough”) third place in voting intentions, behind the PS and the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center right).

By playing with fire, the left could thus have permanently self-excluded itself from power, but also favor the emergence of an openly xenophobic formation supported by Marine Le Pen. By their behavior, the leaders of the Portuguese left seem to send a contrario to their friends in other European countries a clear message on the importance of unity. A message that cannot leave French voters on the left indifferent, at a time when the leaders of the parties which claim to represent them are engaging in an implacable and potentially disastrous competition five months before the presidential election.

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The Portuguese left at the risk of division

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