What do each of the main parties have up their sleeves for Spain’s autónomos in the 2015 General Elections?
Election fever is beginning to hit Spain. What with local elections in May, general elections in September and regional elections scattered around the year, party politics are firmly on the agenda for 2015. The number of Spanish self-employed autónomos is growing every year, so which party will be doing the most for this increasingly sizeable minority? Who should you vote for if you’re working freelance in Spain?
• The PP (equivalent of Conservative/Republican party), currently in power, introduced the system of social security discounts for new or young autónomos during their last stint. However, they also increased VAT levels as well as income tax (although, unsurprisingly, this was lowered for election year). If they get into power again, the PP plan to introduce laws favouring self-employed workers with young children and dependents. For example, autónomos with children younger than 7 will not have to pay extra social security for someone they need to hire to substitute them while they’re looking after their children. Slightly more lenient laws for families with debts have also been introduced. To favour hiring, self-employed workers hiring other people will also be subject to discounts on their employee’s social security payments if the employee isn’t earning much.
• The PSOE (equivalent of Labour/Democratic party) aims to simplify the process and paperwork needed to start up a business, as well as opting for a Constitution from the Consejo del Trabajador Autónomo (Freelance Worker’s Council) in order to bring the self-employed into debate if they come to power in the Spanish general elections in 2015. They also plan to adjust social security payments to earnings as opposed to the current flat rate. The PSOE also aims to make going into business again easier for autónomos with debts.
• Podemos (upcoming left-wing party) has recovered from some bad press involving autónomos in 2014 and is now aiming to give the self-employed the same rights as in other countries like France, where payments are in proportion to earnings rather than having the same rates for everyone. They also aim to open a public bank in order to facilitate access to credit.
• Ciudadanos (in theory, politically centred) is a smaller party, but has been hailed by some as one of the only parties to offer a genuinely good deal for autónomos. In the 2015 General Elections, they aim to make hiring permanent employees easier for the first two years of their employment, as well as linking social security payments to earnings. They also plan to have just one VAT rate (falling between 16-19%) and raise the minimum that needs to be earned before paying income tax (IRPF) to compensate. They also aim to avoid “hyper-regulation”.
Who gets your vote? One thing’s for sure: with the number of self-employed in Spain increasing year-on-year, the parties who overlook this proportion of society stand to lose more than a few votes.
While researching this article, I wrote to the main political parties in Spain to ask them what their policies for freelance workers are. Given that only one party (Podemos) replied, the information here is gleaned from newspaper articles such as this one.
Text and photos by Penelope