Young Fabians in Portugal – Junventude Socialista Congress

Portugal's governing socialist party held their youth conference in December. YF International Officer Panny Antoniou summarises his experience as an attendee.

Last month I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Congress of Junventude Socialista Portugal – the Young Socialists of Portugal where I represented the Young Fabians in my capacity as Young European Socialists Bureau Representative alongside fellow Young Fabian and YES Queer Coordinator Eli Harris.

The event took place in Braga, which is in the north of Portugal. Our hosts found a stunning location for us all to stay, just outside the city in Bom Jesus do Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and major Christian pilgrimage site. We were able to meet with senior members of the Portuguese Government as our sister party are in power, and hear a closing speech from Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa. We were joined by YES Secretary General Ana Pirtskhalava and YES Vice President Enric Lopez from Spain as well as a number of other international representatives from across the world.

It was especially interesting to meet with representatives of UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) and the MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola) who form the two main political parties of Angola – having fought against each other in a civil war until 2002. It was fascinating to get their insights and work on improving the Young Fabians’ outreach to nations outside Europe. We remain committed to the principles of internationalism and working across borders to achieve the goals of a progressive foreign policy with Labour values at its heart.

Portugal is our oldest ally, having been in a formal alliance since the 1300s; it was therefore a pleasure for me to give a speech partly in Portuguese, affirming the bond between our two nations and expressing our desire to build even stronger relations in future. As two maritime nations bordering the Atlantic, we share a number of the same interests, especially in developing offshore wind power in our two countries in pursuit of a fairer, greener future. It was very valuable to spend those few days learning from our sister party in government and was encouraging to see the positive changes which they were able to make in power.

Additionally, it was positive to see the importance and value placed on youth organisations and the role which these groups have on shaping the policies of our sister party in government. We as Young Fabians look forward to working with our UK based sister organisations Young Labour, Labour Students, and the Coop Party Youth on youth focussed policies which make a difference to the lives of all young people.

I would like to congratulate Miguel Costa Matos on his re-election as JS Secretary General and look forward to working with him in future. His second term will no doubt be as successful as his first and it is testament to his previous hard work that he was re-elected with such a strong mandate from members. I would also like to thank Francisco Ribeiro, Inês João Rodrigues, and all others at Juventude Socialista for their friendship, hospitality, and solidarity. The alliance between our organisations, countries, and international representatives remains strong and we look forward to collaborating on motions to platform issues which affect both our countries.

Panny Antoniou is the International/Outreach Officer of the Young Fabians and represents the Young Fabians on the Young European Socialists Bureau. He tweets at @panny_antoniou.

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