News; News & Events

SPAIN: Popular Initiative for Basic Income Ends with 185,000 Signatures

After one year of efforts, the spanish popular legislative initiative for basic income ended without enough signatures to go to parliament.

For the past year, a grassroots movement in Spain has been very actively campaigning for the introduction of a basic income by means of a national popular legislative initiative (ILP). Thanks to the efforts of a growing number of basic income supporters, approximately 185,000 signatures were collected – less than the threshold of 500,000 signatures required for the initiative to be examined by the national parliament. The exact number of signatures still have to be counted by national authorities after a validation check.

Although the number of signatures collected is considered lower than hoped – organisers said the campaign contributed significantly to spreading the idea of basic income across Spain.

The initiative “ILP Renta Basica Universal” was organised by a grassroots coalition formed at a meeting in Madrid organised during the Summer of 2013. This so-called “Movement against unemployment and precarity – for a basic income now” federated various left-leaning organisations such as political movement Baladre, Civic Front, Dignity Camps, and was later joined by many other organisations and the Green Party EQUO.

While the idea of universal basic income was plainly stated in the official text of the ILP and viewed as a civic right, in practice the campaign also aimed at urging the government to implement a means-tested guaranteed minimum income in the short run. This strategy was the result of a compromise between the various organisations leading the campaign.

The Spanish Initiative officially started on January 15th 2014, right after the end of the European Citizens Initiative which collected almost 300,000 signatures at the EU level and ended on January 14th.

The period of signature collection started two months later on March 14th, and was immediately followed by an important participation in the “Dignity Marches”, a broader anti-austerity demonstration involving more than one million people who converged on the Plaza del Sol, the Central Square of Madrid on March 22nd. This was a tactical move to spread the idea of basic income among social movements in Spain.

Unfortunately, just like the European initiative, the Spanish campaign suffered from the burdensomeness of the legal procedures required to make a successful initiative. In the case of Spain, it is extremely complicated to collect signatures electronically.

In fact, over the last 30 years, only one popular initiative have successfully reached the threshold of 500,000 signatures to be examined by the spanish parliament. It was an initiative aiming at protecting victims of the mortgage crisis.

Basic income is now at the forefront of spanish politics

For a few months now, the idea of basic income has been in the forefront of political debates in Spain, a development largely due to the series of efforts provided by BIEN’s affiliate Red Renta Basica, the European Citizens Initiative, the ILP campaign and the impressive rise of Podemos.


To celebrate their achievements, activists gathered last Saturday on the central square of Madrid. “The goal of the initiative was more about generating 500,000 conversations about the concept of basic income rather than just collecting the signatures” activist Jorge Martín Neira said.

Uncertain future for the movement

“The project does not end here, insisted the organizers, rather we are entering a new phase. We will not stop until this policy measure becomes reality. As people we need a more fair, human and inclusive society. This is how we will have more freedom as well.”

While activists look determined to follow up, it is difficult to predict the destiny of the leaderless, diverse and decentralized movement which was founded for this campaign.

About Stanislas Jourdan

Stanislas Jourdan has written 43 articles.


The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Inasmuch as I am somewhat familiar with and do respect your work, I would like to discuss with you, at your convenience, some of the opportunities presented by the general public’s increasing awareness of the always present but growing economic inequalities throughout every country, corner and continent of our potentially pleasant Spaceship Earth.

    Socioeconomic Democracy is here offered as a peaceful, effective and democratic resolution to humanity’s present and needless systemic problems and sufferings. Socioeconomic Democracy will further be found to satisfy the increasingly acknowledged need for a “Next System Project”, advocated by, among many others, Gar Alperovitz.

    The crucial question is whether humanity has yet evolved sufficiently to understand and peacefully resolve the utterly unnecessary obstacles to further healthy development and evolution.

    It is here respectfully suggested that all of humanity seriously confront the multitude of needless problems created by the growing and unjust distributions of monetary income and far more importantly monetary wealth, within and among every country on this planet.

    Fortunately, this appears relatively easily accomplished by simply recalling and reconsidering just a few insights and observations of writers and thinkers down through the decades, centuries and millennia, starting somewhat arbitrarily, to be sure, in ancient Greece.

    Plato, in his last and most mature Laws, preferred equality of personal property but realized that was difficult, if not impossible, to precisely define. He therefore thoughtfully suggested limits on both poverty and affluence. Plato’s attentive student, Aristotle, suggested, with admirable specificity, that “No one should have more than five times the wealth of the poorest person.” Prior to Plato, Thales of Miletus provided a reasonable assessment of the situation: “If there is neither excessive wealth nor immoderate poverty in a nation, then justice may be said to prevail”.

    Reluctantly neglecting all too many other important contributors to the increasing understanding and advancement of an economically and psychologically healthy humanity, may it briefly be mentioned that a powerful sequence of thoughtful humans, down thru the ages, considered and contributed to the discussion.

    A valuable list of some of these people is available at “A Brief History of Basic Income” (see below). Of course, the rapidly increasing popularity of some form and amount of universally guaranteed income for all (by itself) leaves in question just how it is to be financed.

    Nevertheless, this writer cannot constrain himself from explicitly mentioning two of the many contributors to this crucial conversation. First, the world-changing work and dedication of that Societal Engineer, Thomas Paine, who, in a later work following Common Sense entitled Agrarian Justice, proposed and discussed the virtues of a guaranteed income for all.

    Then there was Henry George who, not unlike Paine, did time in a print shop to get his writings printed. One of Henry’s major contributions was to link financial assistance for the poor with a suggested tax or limit on personal wealth, then mostly being land property.

    Over forty years ago this writer, and would-be Societal Engineer, was given the specific ideas of Socioeconomic Democracy. A history of the development and presentation of these ideas is available in our Bibliography (see below).

    Socioeconomic Democracy (SeD) is a theoretically consistent and peacefully implementable psycho-politico-socio-economic system wherein there exist both some form and amount of locally appropriate Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) and some form and amount of locally appropriate Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (MAW), with both the lower bound on guarantee personal income and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted periodically and democratically by all participants of a democratic society.

    Socioeconomic Democracy is easily implemented with elementary Public Choice Theory. The median values of society’s preference distributions regarding these two crucial societal parameters peacefully, democratically and unambiguously resolve the matter.

    Whether society realizes some appropriate form of Socioeconomic Democracy is a cogent question. Clearly, public dissemination and discussion of the suggestions presented here will prove determinative. An alternative to Socioeconomic Democracy as defined above would be where the two economic boundaries discussed here were considered and established by, say, the legislative branch of a “Representative” Democracy.

    This planet’s trivially eliminated or significantly reduced societal problems, by realizing Socioeconomic Democracy, include but are by no means limited to, those familiar ones associated with Automation, computerization and robotics; Budget deficits and debts at the personal, national, regional and global levels; Contempt for much presently practiced politics; Costly crimes and costly prisons, both governmental and corporate profit-motivated; Corporate profit-motivated as well as general publicly expensive exogenous pollution; Inadequate public education for all ages, “races”, and both sexes of humanity; Oversights and confusions of some, but certainly not quite all, Economists and Politicians; Ignoring the elderly, to whom we all owe our very existence; International costly conflicts; national costly conflicts; Involuntary employment; Involuntary unemployment; Lack of access to necessary physical and psychological healthcare, causing unnecessary harm to the individuals themselves, their “close” relatives, and many “innocent bystanders”; Pay injustices to both sexes, all ages and all “races” of our human family; Corporately profitable yet publicly costly “Planned Obsolescence”; Political non-participation, carefully planned, designed, legislated and realized by some, but not all, power-intoxicated politicians; Population explosions; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by “patriotic” and/or pathetic human-killing wars, as well as all the PTSD created by all the other unnecessary societal problems; Voting district gerrymandering; Needless and obscene poverty, racism, sexism, and everything else that effectively opposes, neglects or negates the General Welfare.

    Break Time: Consider and enjoy “Rapids of Change” at

    Responses to this communication are welcome and sought.

    A Bibliography of Socioeconomic Democracy is available at

    Robley E. George, Founder and Director
    Center for the Study of Democratic Societies

  • I was basically ciuuors about if you ever considered changing the layout of your website? It is very well written; I enjoy what you have got to state. But maybe you can include a little more in the way of content so people could connect to it better. You have got a great deal of wording for only having one or two photos. Maybe you can space it out better?

    • Andre Coelho

      That is complicated at the moment (thanks for the suggestion, though). All our present efforts are going towards keeping a steady flow of articles, to the highest degree of quality we can manage.

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