António Costa, the leader of Portugal's Socialist Party, has been invited to form a government by the President, Aníbal Silva, after weeks of stalemate following the general election in October which left nobody with a majority. The lines are drawn, the Left has won.
The result of the Portuguese parliamentary election on October 4 was that the incumbent Government coalition called PAF (Portugal in Front) composed of the Popular Party (Conservatives) and PSD (Social Democrats - Neo-Liberal Rightists) received around 37 per cent of the vote, translated into 107 seats in a Parliament of 230; on the other side, the Socialist Party, the Left Block, the Unitary Democratic Coalition (Communists and Greens) and PAN - People, Animals and Nature won the remaining 123 seats.
After four years of austerity, or better, social terrorism, with pensions slashed, salaries reduced, taxation increased and no hope of anything better for the future, the Left Parties united and said a resounding NO! and refused to accept the Government presented by the PP-PSD, which fell in a vote of no confidence with the majority of Parliament against.
Almost two months later, after procrastinating, trying to buy time and see if the markets reacted negatively, trying to stir up fear of the Left, which never took place, the President has finally asked the Socialist Party to form a Government, which in turn will be supported and kept in place by the Left Block, CDU and PAN.
While there are those who traditionally mistrust the Left, here is an opportunity for the parties which represent the people and solutions for the people to make their mark not only in Portuguese politics but in Europe. By forging a stable political formation for four years, the Left Parties can send a clear message that they put the country first, are responsible, and make it clear that the more unpopular policies are those of the Sociality Party - and if people want more popular policies, then they should deposit their vote in the Left Block or CDU next time around.
This is a massive opportunity for those to the Left of the Socialist Party in Portugal to make their voices heard, to stand up and be counted as responsible political players which put the country's future before party interests and which present viable and responsible alternatives for the future.
A good moment for the political Left.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru
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