The election debate in which Spanish society is involved is the expression of a global battle, but above all a European one, between a radical right that questions the democratic bases of classical liberalism and a left from the center or moderate trends that seek to safeguard those same democratic bases: popular self-determination and respect for the principles of diversity, equality, and equity.
What was born as a surprise call by Pedro Sanchez to confront the autocratic threat, and which many considered a political ploy by the PSOE based on its autonomist debacle, has convinced a large part of the Spanish left. The convening power has been gaining followers during the course of the election campaign, where the right-wing parties PP and VOX have put on the grill a retrograde and decadent design of society right in 2023.
Let’s not deny it: the stone in the shoe has been VOX. An extreme right-wing party that already in the last elections gained much popularity to the concern of the Spanish progressive sectors, and that this year comes to add to that growing and sustained popularity, the backing of the Popular Party, which would take it to the highest levels of power in Spain.
The fact that VOX has reached the government as a coalition partner of the PP has been what has stirred the Spanish popular consciousness and created a space of unity on the left in order to save democracy.
However, there are those who see in all this discourse alarmism and disproportionality. They do not see that beyond the electoral game that will award power to a political party of the left or the right, the future of democracy in the country is being decided. In the PP proposals, they see nothing more than the same demands of a conservative liberalism, not very different from the classic claims of market freedom and national security priorities.
From these sectors that call for moderation to a left called to vote en bloc against the extreme right, it is recalled that the unofficial slogan of the PP proposal is known as “The serene alternative”, and that the figure of is nothing but a boring politician.
It is certain that the PP could only win the elections against the PSOE in coalition with VOX and that the latter, which has arrived here, is disputing third place with another left-wing party, the left-wing movement SUMAR.
But what does VOX stand for? This extreme right-wing party means the regression and limitation of the rights of minorities, the legitimization of Franco’s past, and even the very foundations of the feminist movement. It also promotes xenophobic policies, in the midst of a deep humanitarian crisis in the countries of origin of migrants to the European continent, not to mention its intentions to carry out constitutional reforms to repeal the right of creation and permanence of political parties, especially separatist parties.
It is naive to consider that VOX does not pose a serious threat to Spanish democracy. That the personal prerogatives that Abascal and other leaders of the party would gain upon coming to power would temper their extremist aspirations in favor of governability and permanence in government. The existence in the PP of a classic conservative ethic that contains the extremisms of VOX in too much political optimism.
Is Spanish democracy strong enough to contain the possible extremes of VOX in power? Could the coalition with the PP relegate it to a second role that would undermine its programmatic proposals?
We believe that in these times, no democratic institution is immune to authoritarian twists and turns and political backtracking. We can see the real dangers of the PSOE losing the elections to the Spanish right.
VOX is the permanence of an old threat that always haunts us. We must end the illusion of seeing history as a linear process towards an improvement, always guaranteed in the long term. In this sense of Western democracy, VOX represents an old threat disguised as current events that feeds on the contradictions of the rest of the political forces and their mistakes and failures.
Within VOX, more than ideology, what sustains the political imaginary of its leaders are prejudiced ideas, pseudo-fascists, and even fascist postulates. Their conception of the world is built on the most basic and traditional stereotypes. In VOX, politics is driven by irrational motivations and obsolete and retrograde ideas. Political ideas and ideology are just the disguise of a visceral intolerance, in the style of the old times, against homosexuality, poverty, immigration, sexual freedom, women’s emancipation, youth, etc.
With the possible arrival of VOX to power, these irrational motivations are allowed to have at their fingertips, at whatever level and with whatever representativeness, enough power to empower from above Francoist desires and interests in permanent hibernation.
That is why it is necessary to vote for the left in Spain, and that vote should be for the PSOE, because we must add to our ideological partisanship and allow the only opponent that can get the extremist VOX out of government to do so.
We must close the door to the right-wing parties because they never become more democratic when in power, even less if they are driven by supremacist ideas. Never trust the right-wing parties, even less in power. They will never propitiate public or individual rights. VOX will not become more politically correct by coming to power; quite the contrary, it is quite possible that VOX in power will promote the dreaded turn towards “Spanish-style Trumpism.”
Today, the Spanish left, the popular sectors of the country, must take a leap forward, an upward step, overcome all the sterile discussions loaded with patriotism and ideological chauvinism, and vote as an exercise of reconciliation and unity before the electoral event. There is no other choice.
Either they vote as a united bloc, or, in the future, we will see how they will have to cede ground gained to a superconservative majority in power. It is the left that has to call on the citizens so that they, beyond their legitimate abstentionism intentions, recognize the seriousness of the events and join the struggle for the results of the elections.