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Forward-looking: Spain will hold a vote on July 23, and Yolanda Díaz, the woman aspiring to become the country’s first female prime minister, is prepared for a fight. Díaz has put forward an exceptionally progressive political agenda, which involves a contentious universal payment aimed at providing young people with the necessary funds for pursuing their education or starting a new business.
Yolanda Díaz is currently Spain’s labor minister. She was raised in a communist household, and her vision for the future of the country reflects her strong left-wing ideals. As the leader of a new progressive platform named Sumar, she is preparing for the upcoming general elections and believes every young Spaniard should have enough money to shape their own future, regardless of their family background.
The idea, which would be considered highly implausible in US politics and is even controversial in the most progressive European countries, proposes granting every young Spaniard a “universal inheritance” of €20,000. Payments would start at the age of 18 and continue until the age of 23. In addition to the monetary support, Spanish youths would receive administrative assistance to pursue higher education, vocational training, or embark on entrepreneurial endeavors.
The inheritance would be provided regardless of family income at an estimated cost of approximately €10 billion, or 0.8 percent of Spain’s GDP.
Díaz mentioned her childhood dream of becoming an “employment inspector,” but was unable to achieve her dream because she had working-class parents and no substantial “inheritance.” Sumar’s universal inheritance has been conceived as a redistributive measure, Díaz said.
The additional cost to implement the program would be funded through taxation on wealthy individuals earning a yearly income of more than €3 million. To date, the proposal has gained very little support from either side of Spain’s political spectrum.
Nadia Calviño, economy minister of the socialist-led coalition government Díaz is also part of, said a universal payment for all Spaniards couldn’t work without some kind of income-related restrictions. Calviño emphasized the need for Spain to maintain a responsible fiscal policy in the years ahead, which may present challenges in aligning with Sumar’s proposal.
The conservative People’s Party (PP), which aims to regain control of Spain’s government by forging an alliance with the far-right party Vox after the elections, is rejecting the universal inheritance. A PP spokesperson said Sumar has misplaced priorities, and that Spain has much more serious issues to deal with like the growing risk of social exclusion for a substantial part of the population and the highest unemployment rate in Europe.