The Left Bloc began by bringing together people from different traditions of the radical left in Portugal.
It also involved many people from outside these groups.
This was at the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999. We wanted to build a big, progressive axis based on the rejection of Portugal’s traditional left parties.
The traditional forces on the Portuguese left are strong and weak at the same time. They are very far from what the left has to be.
The Socialist Party has compromised with neo-liberalism. The Communist Party is attached to the Stalinist tradition.
The Left Bloc is made up of young people and the militants from the founding currents who have had previous experience.
But the Bloc has also brought a number of militants from the time of the revolution back to politics.
We made an important choice in our first year to build the Bloc as a militant organisation, not just as an electoral front or a coalition of the previous currents.
We wanted to create a new tradition of the left wing. Everyone came together to make a new programme.
We were not so successful when we first started, winning 2 percent at our first election.
We have become very well known for our attitude. People see us as being active, involved, full of energy.
If a murderer or an oligarch comes to parliament we denounce them.
When there is a need for demonstrations we are the first in line. We were active against the right wing government but also against the plans of the Socialist government.
We are putting forward our proposals for taxing the wealthy, the legalisation of abortion, policies for full employment, keeping the health service public.
There is a fracture between the majority of people and the Socialist Party around these demands.
We are very much engaged with the anti-capitalist left and members of the European Left Party. This is a new cross-European party which aims to unite the left. We can coordinate opposition to neo-liberalism and war with others.
Our members are going to protest at the G8 summit in Edinburgh next month.
We were very happy with the victory for George Galloway and Respect’s other results at the British general election. We intend to deepen our relations with Respect.
The Left Bloc has around 4,000 members. We got around 365,000 votes at the general election. There was great popular support.
We are not in a period where big militant conflicts happen every day.
Insecurity at work and the social crisis give people more reasons not to be active. We are trying to reverse that trend.
There is a big gap between the sympathy towards the Left Bloc and activity with us. We want to close that gap.
Francisco Louçã, one of the Left Bloc MPs, will be speaking at rallies against the G8 Summit in July. Left Bloc MP Ana Drago and Renato Soeiro will be speaking at Marxism 2005. For more details go to www.marxism2005.net