The former Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, foreshadowed, this Monday, a decline in extreme right in Portugal similar to what happened in Spain, where it also grew initially.

“In Spain, the extreme right – it arrived first than in Portugal – is in decline and it will be like that here too”, said Rodríguez Zapatero, guest speaker at the conference Next Left, promoted by the Portuguese Socialist Party, with the theme “They will not pass! The imperative of combating right-wing extremism”, which took place today in Lisbon.

The former Spanish head of government said the moment of inequalities that the far right has seized – growing first in the United States and then spreading, with the 2008 financial crisis and then the pandemic crisis – shows how populism and extremism grow with fear.

Referring to the former Presidents of the United States and Brazil, he predicted that Donald Trump “and his distinguished student, [Jair] Bolsonaro, lost and will not return”, but stressed that it is necessary to “prevent and be attentive”.

Therefore, he asked that “the condition of a single humanity” be affirmed, standing up against discrimination against immigrants and defending the right to integration and universal rights, because it is with “equality, peace, coexistence, respect, words that these are the principles of democracy” and even with “the fight for culture” it will be possible to “stop the extreme right”.

In a speech lasting more than half an hour, at the conference organized jointly with the European Foundation for Progressive Studies (FEPS) and the Karl-Renner Institute, Zapatero left three ideas for action, the first being “strengthen the unity of progressive organizations in the world , such as the Socialist International of Spain and Portugal”.

At this point, the also former leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), wished for the holding of “a great summit” of the center-left parties and also advocated that “it is necessary to dialogue with the center-right”, considering it “essential”.

Zapatero considers that the use of social networks fragments the dialogue, which “should be face to face” and also defended that it is not advised “to let ourselves be carried away by the most conservative discourses”.

In the second idea that he left to an audience of a few hundred people, the former Prime Minister of Spain recalled that the crises – financial 2008, pandemic, climate change – are global and therefore it is necessary “to work as the Charter of United Nations” when referring to “uniting all nations”.

“Europe cannot close itself off”, he said, because “if there is no cooperation, crises cannot be overcome”.

“Cooperation, cooperation and cooperation, not competition and confrontation”, he underlined.

Finally, Zapatero called for greater attention to be paid to inequalities, where the extreme right is gaining strength, and to promote balance and “fairer redistribution”.

“That depends on us, not on the extreme right”, he defended, recalling that what happened in the post-World War II era was this fairer redistribution and that “that was the time when democracy and socialism made the most progress”.


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