Political Promises: The Manifesto Pledges of Spain’s Main Parties

(Bloomberg) -- Spaniards head to the polls on April 28 with five main parties vying for seats in Parliament as the fallout from Catalonia’s failed bid for independence in 2017 dominates the campaign.

The Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez are leading in opinion polls that show them set to garner the most votes, but an expected collapse in support for anti-establishment platform Podemos, a potential partner, might hinder their hopes of staying in power. Pacts with Basque and Catalan nationalists may also offer Sanchez a route to remain in office but would come at a political cost.

The leaders of the four main parties will take part in an election debate on broadcaster TVE at 10 p.m. local time on Monday.

Political Promises: The Manifesto Pledges of Spain’s Main Parties

By the same token, a potential right-wing alliance of the People’s Party, Ciudadanos and new Spanish nationalist force Vox, may fall short of the 176 seats needed to form a majority in congress, according to the latest opinion polls. That would leave the country facing further political deadlock.

Here’s a look at each party and the main points of their election manifestos:

Sanchez came to power last year by toppling PP predecessor Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote. After being forced to call elections when he failed to pass a budget, he has energized his Socialist party with a slick campaign focused on rolling back the effects of austerity. PSOE’s main policy points:

  • Explore ways to deepen self-government as solution for Catalonia crisis
  • Immediately pass a budget with priorities of boosting social cohesion, cutting the deficit and public debt
  • Eliminate the most harmful aspects of the 2012 labor reform
  • Gradually increase the minimum wage
  • Increase taxes on big companies, people with higher incomes
  • Set a tax for financial transactions, certain digital services
  • Public pensions to raise annually linked to real CPI

Pablo Casado, the PP’s leader since last year, is redefining priorities and, some observers say, moving the party further to the right to stem voter defections to the Spanish nationalists of Vox. The PP’s main policy points:

  • Apply Article 155 of the Constitution to suspend Catalan autonomy for the time needed to enforce constitutional order in the region
  • Apply a maximum personal income tax of less than 40 percent, maximum corporate tax less than 20 percent
  • Eliminate specific taxes on tourism
  • Pass a law to support mothers
  • Make the labor market more flexible
  • Launch an immigration policy that will be legal, organized and linked to the labor market

Ciudadanos, which had carved out its space in Spain’s political center ground, takes a tough line on Catalan separatism. That could make its leader Albert Rivera more prone to ally with the PP than with the Socialists in any negotiations on political pacts if the election produces no clear winner. Ciudadanos’s main policy points:

  • Cut taxes on family income, set highest marginal income tax rate at 44 percent
  • Suppress inheritance tax for direct relatives
  • 60 percent reduction in income tax for people living in towns at risk of depopulation
  • Make tax system more favorable for smaller companies, approve a law to boost start-ups
  • Reform self-employment regulation
  • Update rules on sedition and rebellion crimes and guarantee that the activity of Catalan regional police is fully aimed to defend the Spanish constitution
  • Eliminate royal decrees to avoid Government abuse of them

Unidas Podemos is an anti-austerity platform led by Pablo Iglesias. The group joined separatist and Socialist parties to oust conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last year. Support from Unidas Podemos for the Socialists would be crucial for the left to stay to power. Unidas Podemos’s main policy points:

  • Close nuclear power plants before end of 2024, coal plants before 2026
  • Push for 100 percent electric car sales by 2040
  • New taxes for financial transactions, banks, wealthy people
  • 34-hour working week; 16-week leave for each parent with goal to reach 24-week leave
  • Coordinated restructuring of euro-area countries’ debt
  • Raise minimum wage to 1,200 euros ($1,355) per month
  • Intervene in the rental market to control prices; do away with property investment vehicles, fight against funds that have acquired public housing; limit tourist rentals

Led by Santiago Abascal, Vox is set to win its first parliamentary seats on a conservative nationalist agenda that runs from supporting bull fighting and hunting to attacking Catalan independence and gender politics. Vox’s main policy points:

  • Suspend Catalan autonomy
  • Ban political parties that aim to destroy the territorial unity of Spain
  • Intensify policies to get Gibraltar back
  • Deport undocumented immigrants to their country; legal ones that have committed serious crimes
  • Build a wall in Ceuta and Melilla
  • Major cut to public spending; merge local governments
  • Radical cut in income tax, reduce corporate tax to 22 percent immediately and then bring it down to 12.5 percent to attract companies

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