People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 05, 2004
17TH CONGRESS OF THE PORTUGUESE COMMUNIST PARTY
An Important Landmark In Party’s History
17th Congress of the Portuguese Communist Party was held from November 26 to 28,
2004 in the municipality of Almada bordering the Portuguese capital Lisbon.
Readers will recall that the PCP had played a historic role in the struggle
against the dictatorship in Portugal which lasted for over three decades. Even
after the defeat of its elder twin in Spain – the dictatorial regime of Franco
– the dictatorship in Portugal continued. The country and the people were
finally liberated in April 1974. The PCP therefore has a long history in the
struggle for the restoration of democracy in Portugal. Hence, unlike in many
other European countries, the democratic credentials of the Communist Party have
never been suspect or target of attack by the reactionary forces.
has a pride of place in this historic struggle of the Portuguese people. It has
continuously been a communist stronghold and even today has a communist mayor
– a lady mayor. This is one of the eighteen municipalities out of the 209 in
which the communists have a clear majority and hold the mayorship. In many
others, alongwith other Left allies, they control local bodies.
Congress convened under the slogan “With
the PCP – Democracy & Socialism: A Portugal with a Future”. In all
62 fraternal communist and workers parties from 47 countries attended the
Congress as fraternal delegates.
Congress was attended by 1307 elected delegates on the principle of one delegate
for every 75 members. The class composition of the delegates revealed the
character of the Party. Working class and white collar employees constituted 58
per cent. In addition another 26 per cent belonged to the intellectual section.
Of these nearly a fifth have joined the Party after the last 16th Congress.
Significant is the fact that nearly 23 per cent of the new entrants were women.
Party Congress was meeting under rather difficult circumstances. In all spheres
– international, European, domestic and inner-Party – there were serious
problems that needed to be addressed. In a candid manner the Party Congress
resolution summed up the situation as follows:
the 16th Party Congress, we have continued to live in an unfavourable
international situation, which is reflected in new advances in the
aggressiveness of imperialism and of capitalist forces and in negative
developments in the process of European integration. Meanwhile, on the domestic
level, the right wing policies continued during the socialist government and
were stepped up with the reactionary PSD/CDS-PP government, as was the offensive
to distort the democratic regime that was born with the April revolution. At the
same time, there was a convergent campaign, which incorporated the factionalist
activities, targeting the Party, aimed at breaking it up, distorting its
proposals, positions and activity.”
inner Party discussions on these issues were held before the Congress began as
early as February 2004. After over six months, these discussions continued with
over 1100 amendments being considered from the cadre. Finally the Congress was
the culmination of this inner party discussion where many important decisions
concerning the Party’s line as well as organisational structure were taken.
(the details of these will be discussed next week)
adoption of the main documents of the Congress through an open ballot
(only 2 delegates voted against the main resolution) the Congress elected a new
central committee and the office bearers. A 176 member central committee was
elected. Of these 27 are below the age of 30. There is also a significant
increase in the representation of women. The Congress also elected a 22 member
political commission and a 10 member secretariat. The former general secretary Carvalhos was elected to the
central committee but not as the general secretary. The newly elected general
secretary is Jeronimo Carvalho de Sousa. He is the leader of the metallurgical
workers having joined the working class at the age of 14. Carvalhos in his
farewell speech underlined that his stepping down does not mean that he is
saying goodbye. In his concluding speech to the Congress the new general
secretary stated that there are multifold challenges that the Party had to face
in the days to come but he underlined that difficulties do not mean
through the three days as is the trait of the Portuguese communists, the
Congress would continuously witness enthusiastic sloganeering and militant
display of communist fervour. Clearly, this Congress culminated from intense
inner Party debate and discussion as an important landmark in the contemporary
history of the Portuguese Communist Party.