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Left Turn in Portugal

Jim Jepps

 

Portugal's opposition Socialist Party has won a convincing election victory, ousting the governing Social Democrats. Near complete results gave the Socialists 118 seats, giving them an absolute majority in the 230-seat parliament for the first time.

The Social Democrats (the nearest thing to Tories the Portuguese have) suffered a historic defeat receiving a very low proportion of the vote despite turnout increasing by 5%.

Importantly the Left Bloc went from three to eight MP's reflecting an increase in their vote from 150,000 votes to over 365,000 votes (from over 2% to over 6%).

The Left Bloc was a sister organisation to the Socialist Alliance in the UK and had a very similar history. It first stood for elections in 1999 and was comprised of the pre-existing socialist groups (not including the Communist Party) plus independent socialists.

They took the decision to turn these supporting groups into internal factions whose public activity would all be under the banner of the Bloc, and launch regular well resourced Bloc publications. This has resulted in steady success both at elections and in terms of growth in membership.

A key policy at this election was for the legalisation of abortion, a policy that the party put at the forefront of its election material, despite the risk of losing Catholic votes. There have been high profile cases in the courts on abortion over the last year and is a key front in the struggle for women's rights in Portugal.

You can visit the Left Bloc's website at http://www.bloco.org/

 

 

February 2005

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