Spain's trilemma

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On the 26th of June, Spain will be confronted with a trilemma. On the one hand, the old traditional centre-right and centre-left parties will offer the same failed recopies of the past to tackle unemployment, improve education and move forward on institutional reform, the three main challenges the country faces. In many ways the lack of reform ambition of these parties responds to a more profound problem: they strongly benefit - through rents, political appointments and relations with business - from a decaying establishment. Hence they are de facto incapable of responding to the new citizen demands.

On the other hand, a new wave of populists represented by a coalition of Podemos and the former communist party, will offer a shiny catalogue of so-called “social democratic” policies. However, their Syriza type of proposals mark a roadmap for disaster: massive spending promises and tax hikes; dubious proposals to curtail freedom of the press and entrench political control of the judiciary; and an erratic approach to the territorial issue, reaching agreements with pro-independence parties in some regions while defending the unity of Spain in others.

But then there is another way for Spanish voters: Ciudadanos. A centrist and reformist party that seeks not to confront different views and sensibilities, but to unite them in a common project for Spain. A strong pro-European platform that prioritises good policy design over ideology and dogmatism, with three clear policy priorities to unlock Spain’s growth: (1) to fight corruption, by bringing regeneration, professionalism, neutrality and transparency to our institutions; (2) to reform our labour market in order to end mass unemployment and duality; and (3) to achieve a National Pact to take education out of the political game.

Responding to unemployment is probably the most urgent of all challenges. We plan to introduce a negative income tax credit for the working poor (similar to the UK’s working tax credit or the USA’s EITC). In order to tackle the temporary nature of contracts, we will implement a single contract with increasing layoff costs. Contracts currently in force will not be affected, and all new contracts will benefit from a higher social protection. Most importantly, it will end discrimination against temporary workers. We estimate, that there are around 7 million Spanish workers that do not make it to the yearly minimum salary because of the high rotation in the labour market.

Spain faces a trilemma: to continue with more of the same old failed policies, to move down the Greek path or to move forward. Ciudadanos offers the way forward.

 

Toni Roldan

'Ciutadans' number 2 for the Spanish Elections in Barcelona province


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