Christine Jardine, a Scottish politician who represents Edinburgh in the UK parliament, was not a fan of universal basic income before the pandemic hit.
"It was regarded in some quarters as a kind of socialist idea," said Jardine, a member of the centrist Liberal Democrats party.
But not long after the government shut schools, shops, restaurants and pubs in March with little warning, she started to reconsider her position.
"Covid-19 has been [a] game changer," Jardine said. "It has meant that we've seen the suggestion of a universal basic income in a completely different light." In her view, the idea — sending cash regularly to all residents, no strings attached — now looks more "pragmatic" than outlandish.
She isn't the only one to change her mind. As the economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus drags on, support in Europe is growing for progressive policies once seen as pipe dreams of the political left.
In Germany, millions of people applied to join a study of universal basic income that will provide participants with €1,200 ($1,423) a month, while in the United Kingdom, more than 100 lawmakers — including Jardine — are pushing the government to start similar trials.
Austria, meanwhile, has launched a first-of-its-kind pilot program that will guarantee paying jobs to residents struggling with sustained unemployment in Marienthal, a long-suffering former industrial town about 40 miles southwest of Vienna.
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