In Jeronimo de Sousa, PCP decides against innovation
The 17th Congress of the Portuguese Communist Party has produced an affirmation of political courage or blindness, depending on the angle from which one wishes to view the decision to nominate Jeronimo de Sousa as General Secretary.
The 1300 members of the congress gave a standing ovation to the message from the historic leader of the PCP, Бlvaro Cunhal, now 91 years old, who declared his “confidence in the future of the party, which I transmit with a clear message: Long live Marxism-Leninism! Long live the Portuguese Communist Party!”
Carlos Carvalhas, who substituted Dr.Cunhal, leading the PCP for 12 years and who now presents his resignation, understanding that a new political cycle has begun, declared that it is dangerous to break away from the traditional line followed by the party and took the opportunity to attack the reformists who wish to follow a discourse which includes themes more relative and relevant to the present, 2004 and not to the Portuguese Revolution, in 1974.
It is the reformist wing which was cast aside by the choice of Jeronimo de Sousa, identified with the orthodox wing of the party, which has decided once again that its political space lies in the defence of the interests of the Portuguese workers, in Marxism-Leninism and that the PCP is the best option for the oppressed class to fight against the oppressors.
With the decision to elect Jeronimo de Sousa, the PCP follows a coherent line of political orientation, which does not necessarily pass by an obsession with gaining power: for the PCP, the principles it defends are more important than forming part of a government.
Who is Jeronimo de Sousa?
Born on 13th April 1947, the new General Secretary of the Portuguese Communist Party started working at 14 years of age as a machinist, studying at night. He joined the PCP in 1974, five days after the Revolution of 25th April which overthrew the regime of Dr. Marcelo Caetano and oversaw the independence of Portugal’s six provinces abroad: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe in Africa and East Timor in Asia.
Jeronimo de Sousa entered the Central Committee of the PCP in 1979. Elected leader of the Metalworkers’ Union in 1973, he represents the working class which he defends, representing the same class of politician as President Lula of Brazil. In subsequent years, he was nominated a member of the National Executive Committee, the National Council and the Political Commission of the PCP.
From 1976 to 1992, he was a member of parliament, rising to the post of Vice-President of the Parliamentary Committee, before taking a ten-year break from parliamentary activity to dedicate himself to other projects in the PCP, before rejoining the parliamentary group in 2002.
In 1995, Jeronimo de Sousa represented the Communist Party as candidate for the Presidential election, won by Jorge Sampaio.
Jeronimo de Sousa inherits a Communist party which knows very well where it stands and which, after a process of introspection, has decided where its political space lies, what its principles are and who it chooses to defend. The orthodox wing represented by Jeronimo de Sousa does not agree that the party needs to adopt new strategies to attract younger members, because it believes that the precepts of Marxism-Leninism are eternal and answer the social needs of the generations of humankind as we evolve.
According to the most recent official opinion polls, the PCP today has around 6.5% of the vote, against nearly 6% belonging to the Left Block, these being the only two parties representing the Left – together with 12.5% - and against the 49% of the Socialist Party (largest opposition party to the coalition government of the Social Democrats (PSD) and Conservatives (Popular Party) led by Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes), 32.4% (PSD) and 2.1% for the Popular Party, which seems anything other than popular at present, its leader, Paulo Portas, having skillfully managed to drive it into the ground.
The coming years will prove whether Jeronimo de Sousa does the same for the PCP, or whether he manages to keep the flame alive through policies which attract voters under sixty years of age in significant numbers.