Left Bloc (BE)

Left Bloc (BE). The Left Bloc is the more socially libertarian, and bohemian of Portugal’s two far-left structures. A merger party, the predecessors were small communist parties. It originally bought together Maoists, Trotskyists, anarchists and other far-left types who rejected the post-Stalinist Portuguese Communist Party.

The party has come to have a much more ‘New Left’ zeal however and is Portugal’s biggest supporter of feminist, gay rights and anti-racist legislation. While still holding far-left views on the economy it has become predominantly associated with these issues and has been responsible for the introduction of Portugal’s first law on domestic violence, for instance. The party was also heavily involved in the project to introduce same-sex marriage into Portugal.

The party’s base is amongst students, academics and other liberal-left groups.

The Left Bloc usually wins only around 5% of the vote and is the smaller of the far-left groups but it experienced a wave of popularity in around 2009 and at the 2009 European election it succeeded in surpassing the Democratic Unitarian Coalition for the first time. Surprisingly, the BE has been unable to significantly advance from the 2008-9 financial crisis. Its leadership has become quite unpopular and the BE, unlike Syriza in Greece, is seen as offering nothing but opposition for opposition’s sake. The party is almost certain to lose at least one MEP this year.

Like most far-left parties, the BE is broadly Eurosceptic, believing the EU to be too in hock to markets.

BE is a member of the European United Left. The party maintains 94.8% loyalty to its group, the second highest after the German party, Die Linke, which currently dominates the group.

One of BE’s MEPs split from it in 2011, and joined the European Green Party. He formed the more moderate Green party, Livre,as a result. Livre has negligible support.