A number of groups within Spanish political party Podemos are campaigning to make Basic Income a central party policy before the upcoming general election, scheduled for the end of November this year.
The party is a relative newcomer to Spanish politics, forming less than 2 years ago, but with widescale dissatisfaction with established parties, it stormed to the top of opinion polls and won 5 seats in the European elections after less than 10 months in existence. A central policy during those elections was Basic Income(1.12), at the time part of one of the party’s six core policies.
The party has since dropped in the polls to third on average and Basic Income no longer has such a prominent place among its principles. The first indication that Basic Income may have lost favour was a landmark economic document published in 2014, designed to put meat on the bones of what some had claimed were unrealistic policies. The document didn’t mention Basic Income, instead talking of a conditional, means-tested Guaranteed Minimum Income. The document was described at the time as a ‘realistic’ plan for Spain’s economy.
Then another important party document, this time the program for the regional Autonomous Communties elections, also failed to mention Basic Income, again favouring a Guaranteed Minimum Income. This document was again called a ‘short-term’, ‘realistic’ and ‘general’ plan for the five years after the elections.
However, there has been push back within the party to return Basic Income to its position as core party policy in time for the general elections in November. The party’s internal ‘Círculo Renta Básica’ or Basic Income Circle, launched a petition, which currently has over 13,000 signatures out of a necessary 37,000. If successful, the petition would force an internal referendum on whether to enshrine Basic Income as core party policy, a decision which could then only be changed with another referendum.
After this, the influential Circle for the Economy, Ecology and Energy adopted a policy document entitled ‘Proposed Economic Program, The Fiscal Reform Spain Needs’ which prominently proposed a Basic Income of €7,500 a year for every adult and €2,250 a year for every child. At the time the national leadership said there may not be space for every idea from the document in the general election program.
Then, Juan Carlos Monedero, called by the media the former ‘number 3’ of Podemos, also called for the party to include Basic Income in their election manifesto.
And most recently of all, a number of senior party figures, including an MEP and regional deputies, joined the call for the prioritisation of Basic Income, releasing a document called ‘Opening Podemos’. The document called for more transparency and to avoid turning into ‘just another party’, with Basic Income listed as the number one policy that they wanted the party to support.
There has so far been little response from the party leadership on the issue other than the repeated release of party documents failing to mention Basic Income, favouring instead the limited, means-tested Guaranteed Minimum Income. General elections are tentatively scheduled for the 29th of November this year with Podemos currently placing third in most opinion polls, polls which also suggest no outright winner of the contest. Even without a boost before the vote, this will leave the party in an influential position to change the course of Spanish politics. The best hope for Basic Income to be part of that change, should the leadership continue to ignore calls for its re-instatement, is possibly the intended internal referendum, which, if enough signatures are collected, may take place in the coming months.
For more information, see:
Podemos, “Documento Final del Program Colaborativo [Final Document of the Collaborative Program]” (European Elections manifesto), 09 May 2014
Liam Upton, “SPAIN: Podemos Leave Basic Income out of Landmark Economic Document”, BIEN, 30 November 2014
Francesco Manetto, “Podemos olvida sus medidas más radicales en un programa difuso [Podemos forget their most radical measures in diverse manifesto]”, El País, 05 May 2015
Stanislas Jourdan, “SPAIN: Podemos working group seeks 37,000 signatures to reinstate basic income as a manifesto commitment”, BIEN, 14 April 2015
Alejandro López de Miguel, “Podemos plantea una renta básica de 7.500 euros al año por adulto y de 2.250 por menor [Podemos considering a Basic Income of 7,500 euros a year per adult]”, Público, 24 April 2015
Aitor Riveiro, “Cargos de Podemos reclaman “pluralismo interno” y “apertura al exterior” ante el reto de las generales [Senior figures in Podemos demand “internal pluralism” and “openness to the outside” before general election challenge]”, El Diario, 10 June 2015
M Ruiz Castro, “Monedero presiona a Podemos para que incluya la Renta Básica en el programa de los generales [Monedero pressures Podemos to include Basic Income in general election manifesto]”, ABC, 08 June 2015