Podemos abandons most radical proposals in economic program

New Spanish leftist party seeking to present itself as genuine “social-democratic” force

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.EFE

New leftist party Podemos unveiled the first outline of its economic program for the 2015 general elections on Thursday, making it clear that it was renouncing at least two of the more radical proposals from its European campaign earlier this year.

Measures relating to non-payment of public debt and the creation of a minimum wage for all citizens were both left out of the 60-page document signed by economists Juan Torres and Vicenç Navarro, which is meant as a departure point for the drawing up of a full manifesto.

The party now favors an organized restructuring or agreed write-down of the debt. “The sum of the debt crisis will end with some kind of restructuring or non-payment,” said Seville University lecturer Torres. “If they go on applying themselves, the Popular Party’s politicians may take us into such a situation.”

Measures relating to debt non-payment and the creation of a minimum wage for all were both left out

Similarly, Podemos’s proposal for a universal minimum wage has been transformed into a “subsidy” for “all those people without an income.”

“The principle of guaranteeing an income” has its roots in the northern European social-democratic tradition, Torres argued. Denmark is the model that the Podemos leadership is now pointing to as the one to follow.

Party leader Pablo Iglesias said: “The proposals that we are taking up are ones that until not long ago any social-democrat was taking up.” At least, he added, until the arrival of former British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Among the other ideas defended by the two economists was the fixing of the maximum retirement age at 65 – another departure from the group’s European election manifesto, which lowered it to 60.

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The party failed to go into much detail about the announced measures, given that the full draft would not be released until Friday, but Iglesias and the economists did outline some of the main lines and philosophy of its “An economic plan for the people.”

The program claims to be a plan of viable proposals that defend the widening of public financing in the face of private banking so that “access to credit is a right.” “This can be corrected by increasing public banking,” said Navarro of Pompeu Fabra and Johns Hopkins universities.

One of the stated aims of the plan – which Podemos will now debate internally as well as with business leaders and unions – is to reduce inequalities through the creation of new tax figures.

However, the party’s advisors aim to pursue “the reactivation of the economy” with a new policy for the granting of credit. To achieve this, they are considering an overhaul of the Official Credit Institute (ICO) “so it can receive loans from the European Central Bank under the same conditions as private banks, and so in that way be able assure that at last the financing reaches the small and mid-size businesses and families who urgently need it.”

The party is also proposing the abolishing of incentives for employees to award part-time contracts.

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