The Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) is an animal in danger of extinction. Like all creatures in such a position, it strives desperately to find a new lease of life, a few last breaths before the inevitable occurs. Such will be the case next weekend in the PCP’s National Conference in its traditional heartland on the south banks of Lisbon’s Tagus river.
The proposals to be discussed, approved by the Central Committee, include an analysis of why the party has been systematically losing influence since the elections in the mid-1970s, when it gained some 25% of the vote. There is also a proposal to study the influence of the media in elections and a hidden reference that the opposition parties count on a greater support from the mass media than the PCP.
This is a curious accusation. One which Pravda.Ru can refute, the more so because Pravda.Ru has been directly involved in this question since the middle of the year 2000, when a meeting was arranged in the PCP headquarters in Lisbon, a meeting in which it was promised to Pravda.Ru that all collaboration and press releases would be forthcoming by the PCP. Eight months later, when nothing in concrete had been received from the PCP, despite numerous telephone calls, e-mails and personal visits, another meeting was set up.
This time, the representative of the PCP arrived at the meeting brandishing photo-copies of Pravda.Ru material, hailing Pravda.Ru as a great success, but then after the meeting, the promises of information through press releases (at least) never materialised.
In April, fifty-eight telephone calls to the PCP’s various departments resulted in a plethora of promises to collaborate. Nothing in return. 13 e-mails were sent without even the courtesy of a reply. 34 letters have been sent this year, by registered mail, the result being the same.
The conclusion is perfectly simple to make: the Portuguese Communist Party is no longer a serious political organisation and no longer represents a significant part of the Portuguese people. It is an ex-political animal in danger, or certainty, of extinction. It is a shambles, internally divided, split between orthodox and progressive wings, rent between the desire by the cloistered to hang on to the revolutionary discourse of the 25th April (1974) and those who want to move on…to where they do not yet know.
As the European Socialist Parties continue their inexorable movement towards the political centre, and while the European Social Democratic Parties try to hide the fact that they are, indeed, conservatives, with a small C, the space left wide open on the left has not been occupied by the PCP, simply because it is too steeped in conservatism itself. What the PCP described as reactionary thirty years ago, it has become itself, like an eternal chrysalis which refuses to evolve.
The history of evolution dictates that those who do not change with the times, are stupid, ignorant or blind... or moribund. It is interesting that statistics have recently been published, by Portuguese daily newspaper Diario de Noticias, which reveal that 54.6% of PCP supporters are over 50 years of age, while only 4.4% are under thirty. The same statistics, taken from documents which were never revealed to the public, but which the Diario de Noticias gained access to, show that while the PCP claims that it has 131 504 members enrolled, only 40 678 of these have paid their party subscriptions and that a mere 11 020 are active in communist organisms.
The PCP has become an eternal minority fourth political force in Porugal, where a new left has sprung up, one which will fill the gap unoccupied by the PCP. This party is called the Left Block (Bloco de Esquerda, BE). It is fuelled by dynamic, pragmatic and well-qualified people who know what they are doing and where they are going. It is for this reason that the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru, due to start this summer, will count on the BE and not the PCP.
The PCP is a moribund species of outdated political dinosaur and its arrogance dictates that it is living on borrowed time. Rest in Peace.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru