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Written in Lisbon, Portugal on November 10, 2012
I arrived in Lisboa yesterday evening. All the roundabouts are draped with banners from the various different political organisations. The Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) has bought massive advertising spaces mobilising for the general strike on November 14, the MRPP (the Maoists) just scrawl with red and black paint on the walls. Their slogans call for Revolucao. Bloco de Esquerda (BE) has red flags hanging from lamp-posts and posters advertising the Friday evening rally with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and Front de Gauche’s presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Delegates from across Europe and Latin America are being put up in a fancy four-star hotel. While I ‘enjoyed’ dinner with leading members of the Parti Communiste Francaise (PCF) who didn’t talk about anything else than the so-called ‘Trotskyists’ and ‘Black Bloc’, I later witnessed how a group of women were scrounging for food in the
hotel’s skips. (more…)
I recently attended the congress of the Left Bloc in Portugal and witnessed the general strike there a few days later. Here, I argue that Portugal is currently experiencing its biggest social and political upheaval since the 1974-5 Revolution. This article was first published in Socialist Review
A day before the right wing coalition government in Portugal was to vote through its 2013 budget, the German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble met his Portuguese counterpart Vitor Gaspar and proclaimed, “Portugal is on the right path and is, for all of us in the eurozone, a brilliant example that the approach we have been following to stabilise the euro is correct.” Schäuble went on to praise the “exceptional job” being performed by the Portuguese government. But recent events have shown that the austerity measures insisted on by the “Troika” of the European Union, European Central Bank and IMF are creating serious fissures inside the ruling coalition, growing resistance at the base of society and widespread debate inside of the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary left. (more…)
First published on Trade Unions and Global Restructuring I report from my experience in Lisbon of how students and members of staff mobilised against cuts in HE as part of the November 14 general strike. While the current crisis is challenging, it nonetheless provides opportunities for students and members of staff to strengthen their joint resistance against austerity.
Until recently Portugal had been labelled the ‘good student’ of the Eurozone as the Conservative-Social Democratic government slavishly implemented the austerity measures prescribed by the Troika. The November 14 General Strike last Wednesday will, however, be remembered as a game-changer for the movement against austerity. This was particularly exemplified by the resistance that students co-ordinated for the day. (more…)