Vox wants to change its skin, but will not know how to do it

In the early years after the financial crisis and the 2015 refugee crisis, while in many western countries authoritarian right-wing parties like alternative to liberal conservatism, in Spain it became a cliché to affirm that here there was no demand for this option on the right of the right.

The immigration conflicts they were small compared to other countries. The PP had covered all the flanks – from the Christian Democrats to the libertarians, from the autonomists to the centralist nationalists, from the laity to the self-righteous. Ciudadanos led the tough response to the independence movement – tougher than that of the PP itself. And the general attitudes of Spaniards on issues such as abortion, gay marriage or even feminism made it difficult to think that any party could thrive thanks to them.

As we now know, we were wrong. Largely because we tend to analyze politics in terms of demand (What do people want?), Rather than in terms of supply (what do leaders offer that people can buy?). But be that as it may, some of us think, although the emergence of Vox it had been extremely meritorious, it had been produced thanks to the ‘procés’ and its ability to destroy the role that Cs had in it. But the videos of Santiago Abascal on horseback or with a helmet of the thirds, the photographs of the leaders of the party with an ostentatious crucified Christ and, above all, an economic program based on reducing taxes, reducing spending, the partial privatization of the pension system, the reduction of the personal income tax tranches to two and the dismantling of some parts of the State imposed a very low ceiling on Vox. If it wanted to continue to prosper, the party had no choice, we said, that undertake a ‘Lepenian turn’. Without renouncing his nationalism, or in a sense delving into it, he was condemned to change your economic policy on the contrary.

And that’s what he did in the recent document ‘Agenda Spain‘, in which he laboriously re-elaborates his old economic ideas typical of an orthodox right. As the political scientist Steven Forti recounts in the latest issue of the magazine ‘Politics & Prose‘, in it Vox synthesizes what is usually called’welfare chauvinism‘: that is to say, a fiery defense of the welfare function of the State but limited to nationals and traditional families. It proposes, as stated by Forti, “the rise in wages, the construction of public social housing, the increase in health spending or more investments in health, education, dependency, pensions and infrastructure.”

Photo: Santiago Abascal, leader of Vox.  (EFE / Emilio Naranjo) Opinion
The resistible? Vox ascension

Ignacio Varela

It was a predictable turn, but a difficult one. Actually, Le Pen it took more than a decade to fine-tune that strategy. In the case of Trump, once his presidency is over, it is clear that his support for the white working lower classes it was much more identity and symbolic than economic. Not only did he fail to deliver on his promise to reindustrialize impoverished areas and reclaim coal – an impossible thing to do – but his fiscal policies essentially benefited the rich and big business. Will Vox become a match capable of mixing the Identity nationalism with a strong defense of public spending aimed primarily at the middle and lower classes?

An unlikely skin change

Let me make a bet, even after acknowledging my earlier misjudgments: no, you won’t be able to. Politics is largely a matter of ideas, but we often forget that it is also a matter of ideas. question of biographies and characters. The efforts of people like Santiago Abascal, Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, Rocío Monasterio, Javier Ortega Smith or the party candidate for the next elections in Castilla y León, Juan García-Gallardo Frings, by becoming defenders of the working classes they are not only forced, but a little ridiculous. (His plans, moreover, are impossible: you cannot reduce taxes and think that, by cutting the number of political representatives or superfluous costs, you can finance a large growth in public spending, even if it is a common promise in politics. ).

Photo: Santiago Abascal.  (EFE / Javier Lizón)
Vox and its biggest challenge since 2018: entering governments and cornering the Popular Party

Ignacio S. Calleja

His determination to turn Vox into the true guarantor of the well-being of working families – only Spanish, traditional and heterosexual ones, yes – may have a sense of identity, but completely lacks economic plausibility. Can it work electorally? Who knows, but the first thing that betrays its candidates is their clothing, their manners and their trajectory. Without going further, Garcia-Gallardo works in his family’s law firm; has a diploma in International Legal Studies from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas and, in your work biography, claims to be fluent in “English and German” and to have worked in international law firms such as King & Wood Mallesons and Herbert Smith Freehills. It is likely that he is a man prepared to carry out high responsibilities, but to have that life and become a tribune of the people against globalization it is necessary also have a lot of talent. And the Vox candidates, for the moment, lack that talent – which Trump does have – and it often seems that their true interests belong to ideological niches: Soros, the reconquest, the trans, the ‘woke’ and, well, the presence of McDonald’s in Spanish cities, as Jorge Buxadé explained a few days ago.

Vox, contrary to what many of us believed, has found great electoral support and it is likely to continue to grow and greatly influence some governments, and even become part of one. But it has a dilemma that is common in matches and in almost every human organization: what has allowed it to get here may not allow it to grow much more; what would allow it to grow a lot would be a betrayal of what its leaders really believe. In politics, nothing happens to commit treason: but to do so it is necessary have a ductility that the tie knots of his candidates do not seem to show.

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