The European Parliamentary Elections are taking place in Portugal today, the 25th of May 2014, and those who already have registered at their local Junta de Freguesia may have received a voting reminder.
If you are registered to vote, go to the polling station today with your Residencia (and passport just in case). Most voting stations are at the Junta de Freguesia but smaller ones may be at a local school. If you do not know where the polling station is, ask at your Junta de Freguesia or local café.
To complicate matters, on the 25th of May there are municipal by-elections for some councils where there will be two voting forms, one for Europe and one for the local council by-elections.
In the face of a predicted poor turnout across Europe, reprehensively many people seem to have better things to do than vote, the candidates in the Algarve have been canvassing almost unseen apart from the mass coverage of roadside banners from the CDU, walkabouts by the brothers from the PCPT/MRPP and a pan-Algarve roadtrip by the energetic Partido daTerra.
The mainstream political parties normally represented in the Portuguese Parliament are the Social Democrats, the Socialist Party, the People's Party, the Communist Party, the Left Bloc, and the Green Party. This should give a hint as to which parties are regarded as mainstream, in case voters want to register a protest vote against the current coalition (no. 3 below - CDS/PP PSD).
The job of MEP is a highly paid and almost invisible one as once MEPs go to Europe they seldom are heard of again. This does not mean their role is unimportant as much is decided in Europe that affects us in Portugal and the more sensible people we have in the corridors of power, the better surely it must be.
Portugal's Constitutional Tribunal confirmed on 5 May 2014 the following 16 parties and candidates in Portugal for the EU Parliamentary Elections 2014
1. Left Bloc. The main opposition party. Formed in 1999 by several left-wing parties, it adopts a wide range of left-wing policies, concentrating its efforts on the legalisation of abortion, gay marriage and soft drugs. It portrays itself as a modern, progressive alternative to the Communist Party. In the last years the party lost some of its radical wordiness and proposals, slowly becoming a mainstream party on one hand and more closely resembling the Communist party (from where some of its founders had defected) on another.
2. PCP/PEV alliance. The PCP (Portuguese Communist Party) is a major left-wing party, founded in 1921 as the Portuguese section of The Communist International (Comintern), has its major influence among the working class and played a major role in the opposition to the Salazar regime, being brutally repressed for the duration of the dictatorial regime. After being one of the most influential parties in the years that followed the Carnation Revolution it lost most of its power base after the fall of the Socialist Bloc of eastern Europe, but still enjoys popularity in vast sectors of Portuguese society, particularly in the rural areas of Alentejo and Ribatejo and also in the heavily industrialised areas around Lisbon and Setúbal. It also has a major influence among the biggest Portuguese Labour Union – General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP). Its historical leader, now deceased, was Álvaro Cunhal.
The PEV (Ecologist Party 'The Greens') was founded in 1982 and traditionally allied in with the Communist Party in the Unitarian Democratic Coalition, although they have little expression in political life, they have some important specific knowledge and intervention about environmental issues.
3. The ruling coalition: CDS/PP (Democratic and Social Centre – People's Party) A traditional Christian Democrat party, very similar to the German CSU. Also founded after the revolution, it is to the right of the PSD, and advocates stringent social and religious conservatism. In 1976 it was the only party that voted against approval of a socialist constitution. After a more populist right-wing tencency with its leaders Manuel Monteiro and Paulo Portas in the early to late 1990s and early 2000s, it returned to its centrist Christian Democrat roots with Paulo Portas' second period in its leadership in the late 2000s.
In power in coalition with the larger PSD (Social Democratic Party) The name might be somewhat misleading, as the PSD is not a traditional Social Democratic Party, being much closer to the right-wing. It is the Portuguese equivalent of any other centre-right party in Europe such as the UK Conservatives, the Spanish PP, or the German CDU. PSD was founded right after 1974 Revolution as Partido Popular Democrático (People's Democratic Party) by many personalities of the so-called "liberal wing" of the fascist regime, like Francisco Sá Carneiro, Francisco Pinto Balsemão and Joaquim Magalhães Mota. Its leader, Pedro Passos Coelho, is the current Prime Minister of Portugal.
4. Livre. The Livre - Freedom, Left, Europe and Ecology (L), is a lef-wing political party formed in 2013. It was legalised by the Constitutional Court in March 2014.
5. MAS (Socialist Alternative Movement) Formed in 2000 as a Portuguese Trotskyist political organisation, it is the result of a merger between the Left Revolutionary Front (FER), and the young activists of the student movement Ruptura. The Ruptura/FER activists integrate the Left Bloc since its formation. In 2011, the movement split from the Left Bloc and formed a new party called Socialist Alternative Movement that was made official by the Constitutional Court on July 2013.
7. MPT (Earth Party - Partido da Terra, previously called Movimento o Partido da Terra, abbreviated MPT (hence called MPT – Partido da Terra), is a Portuguese green party, founded in 1993. Between 2005 and 2009, the party had two Deputies in the Assembly of the Republic: Pedro Quartin Graça and Luís Carloto Marques, elected on the lists of the Social Democratic Party, following an agreement with its then leader, Pedro Santana Lopes. The President of the Political Committee is John Rosas Baker, elected by the VIII Party Conference on 17 December 2011 and the Honorary President is Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles. The party has participated in a number of coalitions with the major centre-right parties in the country, namely the Social Democratic Party and the People's Party.
8. PS (Socialist Party) founded in 1973, it is a party which resembles the British Labour Party, the German SPD or the Spanish PSOE. The party was founded before the 1974 Revolution in Bad Münstereifel, West Germany by Mário Soares, one of the main opponents of the fascist regime, and by other personalities. The last Socialist Prime Minister was José Sócrates (2005-2011). Its current leader is António José Seguro, elected with 68% of the vote on 23 July 2011.
9. PCPT/MRPP (Portuguese Workers' Communist Party/Reorganised Movement of the Party of the Proletariat) A Maoist and formerly pro-Chinese party. Had a high-profile during the Carnation Revolution, mostly due to its verbal violence and its influence among some groups of students, although it never reached 1% of the vote or elected a single MP. (Duarte Manuel Barroso, the current EC President was a member in his student days). Generally the largest political party without parliamentary representation.
10. PDA (Democratic Party of the Atlantic) Former extreme right party which has, in the last thirty years, been shifting to the moderate left. Its influence is limited to the Azores. It defends the ultramarine status of the Azores and Madeira. It seldom gets more than 1% of the vote, even in the Azores.
11. PNR (National Renovator Party) Nationalist party, affiliated to the European National Front with many members sympathetic to fascism. Although fascist parties are forbidden under the Portuguese Constitution, the PNR, as legal successor to the Democratic Renovator Party, is legal after their leaders joined the moribund PRD, changed internal regulations and positioned itself as neo-nationalist socialist.
12. POUS (Workers Party of Socialist Unity) The last placed in the electoral scorecard, with about 0.1% of the votes, it is an almost non-existent party, although it is a member of one small faction of the former Fourth International called the International Secretariat of the Fourth International.
13. PAN (Party for Animals and Nature) Party inspired by environmentalism and strongly focused on the rights of animals that was founded on May 22, 2009.
14. PPM (People's Monarchist Party) Small monarchist party with little political expression. It is known that the pretender heir to the Portuguese throne, Dom Duarte Pio, does not support this party, since the question of monarchical regime is considered to be above partisanship.
15. PPV (Portugal Pro-Life) A far-rightist political party that opposes abortion and euthanasia and promotes other elements of Catholic social teaching.
What are the key election points for each of the main parties?
Essential points of the electoral programmes of the 14 parties and two coalitions in the European Elections are as follows:
1. Left Bloc (BE )
The party aims to elect two MEPs and advocates an "urgent solution to the restructuring of debts of the peripheral economies, as well as the promised reforms of the financial system following the financial crisis which were never implemented."
2. PCP/PEV PCP - Coligação Democrática Unitária want to break with the European Union's economic downturn, the de-industrialisation of the peripheral countries, a stop to the EU asymmetries of development, economic colonisation of the Troika. To stop the European Union’s resurgence of fascism, nationalism, xenophobia and racism. PCP, aka the Greens are Portugal's environmental guardians and advisors and are in alliance.
3. Alliance Portugal (PPD/PSD - CDS/PP)
The ruling coalition party of the PSD and CDS-PP has 101 key points which are divided into four parts, including defending the institutional reform of the Economic and Monetary Union, then the defence of the poor, and the establishment of a Union Bank.
4. Livre (L)
The Free party, which debuts at the polls, claims to be the party that has a well reasoned electoral programme for all voters.
Among the 67 measures presented to change the EU, its Open Budget proposes to repeal the Treaty, to take the 'Troika' the EU Court of Justice, to convene a conference of debt resolution, tax multinational companies and launch a recovery programme for the Southern countries.
5. Socialist Alternative Movement ( MAS)
Holding a referendum on the euro is one of the MAS proposals in the European elections, which features Gil Garcia.
Regarding the electoral goal of MAS the main thing is to get an MEP elected, although Gil Garcia, a former Left Bloc activist, admits that this will be difficult.
6. New Democracy Party (PND)
The PND is against the European Union and for the return to the European Community, where each Member State maintains its independence and right to say "no."
The PND advocates "a turning point in the European Union, to take a step back frm the European Community where all countries have common interests but can say no to laws and proposals which do not operate in favor of the country."
The list head of the party, Eduardo Welsh , will focus his election campaign in Madeira due to the economic crisis but hopes to make some inroads in mainland Portugal .
7. Earth Party (MPT)
Freedom, justice and solidarity are the three principles of MPT election manifesto. The MPT is against the Budgetary Treaty and calls for a return to the spirit of the Treaty of Rome and the founding purity of the Union.
8. Party (PS)
In the European election manifesto the PS demonstrates confidence in a "new way of being in Europe" and calls for "jobs and growth" and a "much stronger" voice for Portugal in the European Union.
Sustainable development and the service of public finances, energy strategy, offshore betting, the recovery of agriculture and more equality and transparency in European democracy are the pillars of the manifesto of the Socialist Party.
9.Communist Party of the Portuguese Workers / Reorganizativo Movement of the Proletariat Party (PCTP/MRPP)
The PCTP/MRPP advocates the election of one or more representatives to the European Parliament in order to "overthrow the PSD/CDS government of national betrayal and replace it with a new, democratic and patriotic one.”
The PCTP/MRPP also wants Portugal to abandon the single European currency, proposing the replacement of the euro with the Escudo.
10. Democratic Party of the Atlantic (PDA)
Based in the Açores the party lies between "Eurosceptics and euroconformists" and supports commitments to the Azores in agriculture and marine resources.
11. National Renewal Party (PNR)
The NRP wants to leave the European Union which “seriously undermines the country.”
The CDU which includes the PCP, "The Greens" and the Democratic Intervention Association wants the "immediate end to the ' Troika' programme and the recognition of the unsustainability of Portuguese government debt and promises to continue to intervene in Brussels and Strasbourg in defense of a"political alternative that is patriotic and to the left."
12. Workers Party of Socialist Unity (POUS)
The POUS want to reject all institutions of the European Union and show how all of them , including the European Parliament, constitute "a supranational device to try to prolong the disorder and chaos caused by the survival of the capitalist system."
Reset salaries and pensions, end dangerous working conditions and end the privatisation process are other goals of POUS in the European elections.
13. Party for Animals and Nature ( PAN )
Defense of a Europe that recognises "the rights of animals, nature, and future generations of humans and non-humans," the PAN proposes "a comprehensive reform of the financial system" or the adoption of "alternative indicators" to the Gross Domestic Product such as PAN’s Gross National Happiness indicator as a development model.
14. People's Monarchist Party ( PPM )
The PPM defends the "mutualisation of debt" and proposes a "European social pension" and a "rescue fund to over- indebted householders."
The PPM also advocates the need for a "just and united Europe" and is against "lowering wages."
15. Portugal Pro Vida (PPV)
The PPV hopes to get at least three MEPs into Europe and to revitalise the values that governed the formation of the European Union: solidarity, subsidiarity and humanism among the nations.
16. Portuguese Labour Party (PTP)
Unemployment, delays in justice and a demand for the criminalisation of ruinous public acts are the mainstays of the PTP in the election campaign.
This is a first time in the European Elections but PTP is optimistic about the possibility of getting an MEP elected.
European Political Party Affiliations
Some of the Portuguese parties that are fielding candidates to become MEPs are in alliances with European Groups operating in Brussels.
These political parties at a European level are organisations that follow a political programme, which is composed of national parties and individuals as members and which is represented in several Member States. As mentioned in the Treaties, "political parties at European level are important as a factor for integration within the Union. They contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union."
A. The Party of the European Left
The Party of the European Left unites democratic parties of the alternative and progressive Left that strive for the consistent transformation of today's social relationships into a peaceful and socially just society on the basis of the diversity of our situations, our histories and our common values.
Founded on the 9th May 2004 in Rome, the Party of the European Left (EL) consists of 26 member and 7 observer parties from all over Europe. We work alongside the political foundation Transform! Europe, social movements and trade-unions.
B. European People's Party
The EPP is Europe’s centre-right political family. It strives for a Europe of values close to the people and based on democracy, transparency and responsibility, as well as prosperity through the promotion of a social market economy.
As the political heirs of the EU’s founding fathers, the EPP includes 74 parties from 39 countries. It has the largest Group in the European Parliament and most heads of state and government of any political family in the European Council, as well as members in the Commission.
C. Alliance of European National Movements
The European level political party "Alliance of European National Movements" was formed in Budapest, Hungary on the 24th of October 2009, by a number of nationalist parties and national movements from various countries in Europe. Since then, AEMN dedicates its political activities to protect and nurture the diversity of autochthonous cultures, traditions and languages in a Europe of free, independent and equal nations, in the framework of a confederation of sovereign nation states.
D. Party of European Socialists
The Party of European Socialists (PES) brings together 53 Socialist, Social Democratic and Labour Parties of the European Union and neighbouring countries. The PES European Parliament election campaign will put people at its core and reflect the PES commitment to the common values of democracy, equality, solidarity and social justice. In the run-up to the European elections, the PES will spearhead a ‘common candidate’ campaign to give people a say in who the next European Commission President should be. The PES will provide information and contacts to its member parties and will draft a simple ten point manifesto to ‘frame’ the election.