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A duty to respond

The arguments and policies set out by Vox during Monday’s pre-election debate should have set all kind of alarm bells ringing

Vox candidate Santiago Abascal after Monday’s debate.
Vox candidate Santiago Abascal after Monday’s debate. EFE

Throughout Monday’s televised pre-election debate ahead of the November 10 poll, political leaders avoided demanding explanations from Santiago Abascal, the candidate for the far-right Vox party, even though most of his statements contained untrue assertions and established false dilemmas, exposing an ideology that is incompatible with Spain’s constitutional values.

It was surprising to see the Popular Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (Citizens) publicly shunning the far right, but only for one night and in front of the cameras; this has not been the case on the numerous occasions that Vox’s votes have been necessary to craft majorities in local and regional governments.

Likewise, the evident tactical calculation by the candidates for the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos to ignore Vox did not free them from the obligation to reject extremely serious statements by Abascal that were aimed at justifying xenophobia or criminalizing political adversaries who – unlike Vox itself – do not issue threats against the constitutional order or despise and ridicule its values.

Tthe far-right leader was able to push his manipulation so far as to pass off as solutions to the country’s problems what are, in fact, the attitudes causing those problems in the first place

Because he was not met with the kind of resounding response that he deserved from the other debate participants, the far-right leader was able to push his manipulation so far as to pass off as solutions to the country’s problems what are, in fact, the attitudes causing those problems in the first place.

In this context, the threat to Spain’s social harmony represented by ultranationalism does not stem from the fact that it is found in Catalonia, but from the fact that it is ultranationalism, period. And as such, Catalan ultranationalism displays the same authoritarian traits, the same obsession with identity, and the same demagogic sophistry that Abascal himself has exhibited.

Also like Catalan ultranationalists, who are obsessed with seeking legitimacy for their actions by equating Spain’s constitutional system with various undemocratic regimes, Abascal enjoyed portraying himself as the bold champion of a movement battling against a dictatorship that only exists in his own rhetoric and fanatical thinking. It bears reminding that the only measures ever imposed in Spain without the majority backing of citizens are not those created by perverse progressives or by any alleged gender-based ideology, but by an actual political regime that functioned for decades as an incontestable dictatorship – one that Abascal and other Vox leaders have expressed a fond nostalgia for; one that sought support and inspiration from the most ferocious tyrants of the 20th century and their sinister ideologies in order to subvert the legitimate order in Spain.

Abascal enjoyed portraying himself as the bold champion of a movement battling against a dictatorship that only exists in his own rhetoric and fanatical thinking

All alarms should be going off at this point after seeing a force like Vox at a campaign debate to determine the immediate political future of Spain, and after witnessing the spine-chilling ease with which its leader’s xenophobic, intolerant arguments were allowed to be voiced with impunity alongside those of the other candidates.

This wake-up call should serve to stop the PP and Ciudadanos from incorporating into their governing majorities a political group whose principles and proposals have no room within our constitutional order. And in the case of the Socialist Party and Unidas Podemos, it should remind them of their inexcusable duty to reply to Vox’s assertions and defend all the groups that were singled out by a force that cannot be considered to be like the others.

English version by Susana Urra.

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