Parties are historical units that are formed in a specific political context. Over time, they are expected to change or even reconfigure and, in extreme cases, to go away.
The PCP also experienced the First Republic, lived clandestinely during the fascist dictatorial period, gained strength with the April Revolution, lost its electoral dimension with the integration of Portugal into the European Union, but retained a unique space in the Portuguese political framework 100 years ago Birth.
Its centenary is certainly cause for reflection. It cannot be said that society has not changed because it has changed a lot. The party could have disappeared in the difficult situation of 1939 for lack of support from the International, then in 1949 when its main leaders were arrested, even in 1989 and in the 1990s, as with so many other Western European communist parties of the fall of the Soviet world . Didn’t happen. Its historical leaders disappeared, but the party went on. Dias Lourenço, one of these “historians,” said there was no need to question the march of humanity to a higher level of human equality: it also took capitalism centuries to overcome the barriers of feudalism and serfdom.
So what could be due to this long duration of the PCP?
In the “service of Moscow” or in the service of the Portuguese?
The opponents and enemies of the PCP have always accused him in the anti-communist version of being connected to foreign interests, the “Moscow Service”. Even some historians have failed to overcome this mythology of the party that is subject to the dictates of the Communist International. This is paradoxical and difficult to reconcile with the affirmation of a workers’ party, which at certain moments of the fascist regime is the hegemonic head of these struggles, and with a national and patriotic party committed to the development of the country and its independence nationally. Is this anchoring of the workers and the country that makes the PCP a centenary party? Without ignoring the importance of external support from Moscow and other people’s democracies in the East since the 1950s.
Between the revolutionary avant-garde and anti-fascist frentism
Another stronghold of the ideological struggle has accused the PCP over the years of having placed itself in the “avant-garde” of the struggle, allegedly isolated from the country in which we are, archaic and conservative. However, this is another observation that falls apart when analyzing its national and frentist aspects. Indeed, this is a tension that ran through the PCP itself throughout the underground and even throughout the revolutionary and democratic era. Let us remember the frenzy of 34-39 against war and fascism, that of 1944-45 for the transition of the regime through the electoral system, that of 57-59 for regime change through the presidential system. And we could go on through 1969 and 1973 through the constitution of democratic electoral commissions. This frentist aspect is so persistent and strong that the question that can be asked contradicts even the allegation of avant-garde isolation: Has the PCP ever considered that there are conditions in Portugal to take power in a revolutionary way? (including the PREC time)? )?)?
A school of literacy and mass culture
The PCP has developed very strong lines of convergence with the cultural field (educated and popular). Some of the leaders of his 1941 re-establishment (such as Soeiro or Álvaro Cunhal) were militant intellectuals. The strongest example of this convergence can be found in neorealism in the 1940s and 50s. However, this is not the only manifestation of a strong symbiosis between the “reading culture” and the communist party. Indeed, a large number of men from science, literature and the arts shared with the PCP the ideals of fighting against fascism and replacing democracy, rights and freedoms. In the face of a regime that did not accept any democratic and legal political manifestation, what other alliance could one imagine during the dictatorship? And the best example of the symbiosis between literacy culture and mass culture is the unique event that the PCP organizes every year, the “Festa do Avante”.
If anyone wants to find another strong reason to explain the longevity of the PCP, they have to find it in the collective of men and women who have responded to the challenges of the anti-fascist struggle and the struggle for democratic equality.
“Collective” and “Personality Cult”
Certain communist parties have developed mechanisms of mythic personalism, with an intensified cult of the personality of their leaders. This is not the case in the PCP. Although he is not seen as one of “his” – because they recognize a culture and superior moral qualities – his comrades call Álvaro Cunhal, the undisputed leader of the party, of “Álvaro”, that is, equal to himself. If anyone wants to find another strong reason to explain the longevity of the PCP, he has to look for it in the collective of men and women who are hiding or freely facing the challenges of the anti-fascist struggle and the struggle for democratic equality.
And voting is everything?
If one only takes into account the decline in the number of votes in the PCP – 18.8% in 1979 and 8.9% in 1999 – this last figure remains in the 19th century. XXI. We would have to conclude two things: i) that the influence of the PCP even in the revolutionary era was not due to a loose election result, but much smaller than that of parties with less implantation in the field such as the PS and the PSD or even the CDS; ii) that the election decline (which was substantial at the end of the 20th century) was not a reason for the party to diminish its relevance to local power and the world of trade unions. Possible changes in these two areas – self-sufficiency and union – could prove to be serious problems for the continuity of this centenary party. As we well understand, in the recent history of the democratic regime that emerged from the April Revolution, it was the PCP’s strong connection with the country’s historical transformation process that gave it the strength to remain active and its own place in the Portuguese has a political framework.
The author writes according to the new orthographic convention