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Thanks for this. Was hoping to see an in-depth study of the upcoming election.

When we were in Portugal in June the TGV line to Madrid had become a political football, with PS announcing it was delaying the final decision until after the election in order to use it as a cudgel against PSD, which is apparently opposing the project. Has this had any impact on the election?

Judging by the enmity between PS leadership and the left, including the BE, it seems like a replay of Ypsilanti/Hesse where a center-left party refused to coalition with the left to form a government. Would there be any effort by PS to govern as a minority? Would there be enough pushback from within the PS ranks to demand a coalition with BE and/or CDU? Or would there be a replay of the 2005 German federal election and a grand coalition formed between PS and PSD? (Which strikes me as rather unlikely, but I suppose you never know, especially if PS is adamant about not coalitioning with the left.)

Where in Portugal are the various parties strongest? I know the Alentejo has traditionally been a CDU/PCP stronghold, but am less familiar with the rest of Portugal's partisan preferences.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Sep 22nd, 2009 at 01:56:54 PM EST
The TGV issue re-emerged during the campaign. PS is using the TGV, a new airport for Lisbon and a few road projects as their version of Keynesian policies. The PSD claims such projects are mostly irresponsible at this point because of the impact on public deficit.
(The PSD was a promoter of both the airport and the TGV in the past, so this may have more to do with this particular leader).

A coalition to the left is unlikely, only a defeat of Socrates would allow the left side of the PS to push for that, and in case of a defeat it is the PSD that is called by the president into forming a government.

An unlikely coalition that already happened once, is between PS and CDS. Not impossible at this point, as there is probable less personal antipathy between the two leaders, than between Socrates and Ferreira Leite. It would look very awkward and most likely would be short lived, as it would erode the PS from the left even further, i believe. A grand "center" coalition can only happen is the looser of the two resigns, in my view.

Alentejo is indeed where the CDU/PCP are stronger, but they also have a strong presence in the south part of Lisbon metropolitan area, (where most of the heavy industries used to be) where the population probably exceeds the all Alentejo combined.

Generaly speaking you get a more conservative country as you go North. The BE has been considered a urban party that gave hints of breaking that mould during the European elections.

The PS and PSD share basically the same demographics and here i think religion may be the big differentiator as the PS was from the get go a secular and republican (in the french sense, if there is one) party (although they did have a very catholic prime minister in Antonio Guterres during the 90's).

by Torres on Tue Sep 22nd, 2009 at 07:17:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what keeps BE and CDU/PCP apart? Have there been any efforts to build stronger links there, or are there fundamentally different political views and methods at work that make a more collaborative relationship impossible?

Thanks for all this insight. So glad you wrote this diary.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Wed Sep 23rd, 2009 at 01:27:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess it is the same as with the Greens/Left Party in Germany, or Syriza/KKE in Greece.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 23rd, 2009 at 01:42:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm by no means an expert in left wing but one quick answer might be the trotskist roots of most of BE vs the Leninist roots of PCP. In today's politics, BE are closer to what a truly social democrat party might look like. PCP's critics of the BE basically claim they've drifted from true socialism. I'm afraid i can't give you a more sophisticated insight.
by Torres on Wed Sep 23rd, 2009 at 04:49:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BE is an agglomeration of trotskyists (former PSR), more trotskyists (Ruptura-FER), stalinists/maoists (former UDP), left-social-democrats (former Politica XXI), even anarchists (Rui Tavares, MEP) and independents.

While their discourse sounds social-democrat (especially in a country where the local social-democratic party - PS - is and always was too much to the right, leaving that space open), I would contend that the inner core is mainly composed of closet trotskyists-stalinists.

The former political parties still exist in the form of associations and they still have the typical hard-left connections (e.g., Fourth international). The people pulling the strings are mainly from PSR and UDP.

Regarding the Communist Party: They are still extremely  old fashioned communists. With ties to China, North Korea, Cuba. And clearly fond of stalinist USSR.

I am voting PS (PES). It is the least-worse choice from my point of view (which is unashamedly social-democratic/socialist-libertarian).

by t-------------- on Wed Sep 23rd, 2009 at 01:16:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. And i'm voting for BE mainly because i think PS needs to be challenged from the left.
by Torres on Wed Sep 23rd, 2009 at 05:06:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding BE, I have 2 things to say:

  1. If I believed that they meant what they said I would maybe vote for them. They sound reformist/social-democrat, but they are closet-commies.

  2. Before I say point 2, let me start with a quote:
"I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong." - Bertrand Russell.
The idea above, summarizes in my opinion, the essence of liberalism.
BE are, at their core, a totalitarian organization. They believe they own the truth (just look at the priesty, self-rigtheous and too-serious style of their leader - FLouca).
They will never be a reliable coalition party because they will never accept the idea that they have to make concessions and negotiate. And being a junior coalition party would mean to make a lot of concessions.

See what happened in the Lisbon government: Even with a left-labour mayor they broke the coalition because of a few minor reasons (though I would agree with them on the issues, that is besides the point: if you are in a coalition you have to swallow a few frogs and even a few elephants).

I think Socrates is a blairite-type of politician, but I don't see an alternative for now.

I would love BE or PCP being in the govt, but they have to change their totalitarian ways.

I am going to do 8.000 Km just to vote (I am still in lovely Missoula, Montana, USA), as I think this will be the most important elections of my lifetime (the crisis is here to stay a few more years, and I don't want a conservative govt in place during crisis times).

Also, their bet on renewables (I love the wind mills all over the country) is worth supporting.

by t-------------- on Thu Sep 24th, 2009 at 12:55:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong." - Bertrand Russell

Well, that and "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

On some issues leftists do have a monopoly on the truth - not because we are priests, but because the right has made denial of reality a major plank of its policy.

See, e.g., global warming, peak oil and the relative health of the German and British economies.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 24th, 2009 at 04:26:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would say that some facts are difficult to understand and open to interpretation.

Take for instance, peak oil (in which I truly believe): We really don't know what is really left in Saudi Arabia (it is still a state secret?).

And it is still to be proven that Homo sapiens has enough cognitive ability to really understand complex reality. I would not classify any of your selected subjects as "facts" in that sense. For me they are open to discussion.

I can find countless scientific predictions in the literature ("facts") that turned out wrong.

One would even say that accepting fact coming from science then neocon economics is a fact (as it is what can be published in respected scientific journals - still).

So, I don't label peak oil deniers as "out of the truth". I disagree with their interpretation of reality (complex, incomplete data, difficult to understand).

Malthus was a "fact", until technology came.

by t-------------- on Thu Sep 24th, 2009 at 04:56:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Taking them one by one, global warming is a matter of empirical reality. The data is in. The discussion is now one of magnitude, and here the forecasts have been consistently over-optimistic. This as well is a simple matter of experimental record.

Peak oil, again, is a matter of experimental reality. The data is in, the peak is now in the past. If you play games with the definition of oil (to include tar sands and asphalt), you can push the peak to 2010. But we have sufficiently solid data already to say that it will be 2010, give or take a year or two.

The last item is less straightforward, as it turns on one's definition of economic "strength." Here there is room for disagreement. But only to the extent that the dissenter wishes to argue that structural current account deficits combined with structural import dependencies is a sign of economic strength (or at least irrelevant to the question of economic strength). Because the underlying trade flows are a matter of straightforward empirical reality.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 24th, 2009 at 05:19:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would say that some facts are difficult to understand and open to interpretation.

Facts which contradict one's worldview are invisible, or misappraised or ignored. I think one can call that a fact from cognitive science.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 24th, 2009 at 05:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On some issues leftists do have a monopoly on the truth - not because we are priests, but because the right has made denial of reality a major plank of its policy.

And yet, in the face of the intellectual collapse of neoclassical economics and the biggest economic crisis of our lifetimes, the mainstream left is getting its ass kicked electorally.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 24th, 2009 at 05:57:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What mainstream left?

When was the last time you had a card-carrying union member heading a major social democratic party? When was the last time you heard a nominally social democratic party tell people, in so many words, that confiscatory taxation of millionaires is not only just and necessary but economically efficient as well? When was the last time you heard a nominally social democratic party unashamedly advocating a better provision of public goods for the sake of better provision of public goods? When was the last time you heard a nominally social democratic party unashamedly advocating the interests of tenants above landlords and "owner"-occupiers?

All I see in the "mainstream" so-called "left" is centre-right schmucks chasing the false consciousness of the pwnership society.

But that'll change when the real unemployment rate hits the high 20s, and cascading margin calls start booting over-leveraged home"owners" out of "their" houses.

The open question is whether it will change fast enough to present a viable alternative to violent nativism and similar forms of aggressive obscurantism.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Sep 25th, 2009 at 04:25:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When was the last time you heard a nominally social democratic party tell people, in so many words, that confiscatory taxation of millionaires is not only just and necessary but economically efficient as well?

Indeed. Then again, to my surprise, the ruling Slovenian version came up with this:

XE.com - Slovenia slaps big wages tax on firms on state aid

LJUBLJANA, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Slovenia's Parliament on Wednesday voted to raise the tax rate on top wages to 90 percent in firms that receive state aid or state guarantees, imposing one of the highest tax rates in the world.

The new 90 percent maximum tax rate imposed by the euro zone member on net wages is up from 41 percent at present and will expire at the end of 2010 or after state aid to a company expires.

It will apply to managers' wages that exceed 12,500 euros ($18,470) per month and to bonuses that exceed 25,000 euros per year. The new rate gained support by all parliamentary groups and was imposed by a vast majority of votes.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Sep 25th, 2009 at 04:57:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am going to do 8.000 Km just to vote (I am still in lovely Missoula, Montana, USA), as I think this will be the most important elections of my lifetime (the crisis is here to stay a few more years, and I don't want a conservative govt in place during crisis times).

Can't you register to vote at the embassy/consulate or by mail?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 24th, 2009 at 04:47:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the latest polls you could have saved your money: PS appears to have a solid 8 points lead over PSD.
by Torres on Thu Sep 24th, 2009 at 07:17:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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