Our endorsement for Spain’s general election

Spanish citizens go to the polls on Sunday to choose a new Parliament in a much better economic environment than when they last voted four years ago. The economy is growing at 3% and unemployment is falling, although slowly. Yet no one expects any party to win an overall majority. Most polls show the governing conservative Popular Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy slightly ahead, while the race for the second place is unclear.

While we believe most of Mr. Rajoy’s economic policies –such as the partial liberalization of the labor market and his fiscal austerity program– have been right, we are repelled by his party’s traditionally social conservative stances and its tendency to cronyism and political corruption (the latter applies in equal measure to the opposition Socialists).

Fortunately for us, liberals, in this election Spaniards will have more than two alternatives –right and left– to choose from. A new, radical party has emerged in the Spanish political scene: no, we’re not talking about the left-wing extremists of Podemos (We Can), but the liberal Ciudadanos (Citizens) led by Albert Rivera, which espouses a program of liberal, radical centrism. A centrism which Spanish –and European– politics desperately needs.  

Mr. Rivera’s party proposes further liberalization of the labor market, tax cuts (lower corporation tax and VAT), the merging of small municipalities to reduce bureaucracy, cutting red tape, a more liberal immigration system to attract talent to Spain and a crackdown on political corruption. Moreover, unlike the PP and the left, the party is firmly committed to individual rights and personal freedoms.

While it is unlikely that Ciudadanos will come on top in Sunday’s election –although we still hope for a surprise–, it could come in second or a strong third or fourth place, providing the necessary support to Mr. Rajoy’s conservatives in order to stop a return of the Socialists to power. We still don’t know if this would be Mr. Rivera’s preference, but we hope it is. The last thing Spain needs is a weak Socialist government held to ransom by the extremists of Podemos.

If we had a vote on Sunday’s Spanish election, we would give it to Mr. Rivera’s Ciudadanos. A Ciudadanos-PP coalition or alliance in Parliament would present the best prospects for a more liberal and prosperous Spain –more than a PP majority government and much more than an alliance of socialists and left-wing fanatics.