The PP had long been behind Anne Applebaum, winner of a Pulitzer for Gulag (2003) ―he tried to get him to attend the national convention in early October, but it was not possible― and this Tuesday, at last, Pablo Casado was able to share a talk with the American writer in Madrid, where he had talked for just over an hour from a theoretical perspective on the threat of populisms to democracy. Applebaum’s latest book is titled The decline of democracy. The seduction of authoritarianism (Editorial Debate), and in it he stops at the risk posed by right-wing radicalisms, including Vox. During the talk, Casado has marked distances with populisms in general, without mentioning Vox, and has called on his people not to fall into their tactics: “The vaccine against populisms is not to disguise yourself as populists.”
Casado has defended that the rise of these populisms in Spain – equating those of the right and the left – is related to the financial crisis, and has recognized that the moderate parties did not know how to prevent those frustrated by the crisis from being attracted by those recipes. The leader of the PP maintains that, now, his training must avoid the temptation to assimilate to this phenomenon. “For me the vaccine against populism is not to dress up as populists. And vindicate some values, some principles, which are those that have always allowed to generate the freedom that would ensure prosperity ”, he assured with Applebaum.
“Populists enter institutions like a worm in a nut,” warned Casado. “It is not seen at the beginning: they empty all the institutions, they attack the judiciary … they rewrite constitutions based on an assembly movement,” he said. “Populism is a struggle between political sentimentality and the law,” says the popular leader, who has cited as an example of this phenomenon the peace process in Colombia, the referendum in Hungary on the law that vetoes LGTBI content for minors and minors. “Here”, he said about Spain, “that everything be voted.”
“The way out of this is not to disguise yourself as a populist, that is to say the truth,” insisted the leader of the PP, marking distances with these forces. However, chance has wanted Casado to share a talk about populism with Applebaum in Madrid on Tuesday the same day that one of the regional leaders of the PP, the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has signed the Budget agreement with the main populist force in Spain at the moment, Vox. The coincidence reminds the PP that it continues to depend on this formation to govern, and the conditions that this party sets resonate with those from which Casado has distanced itself, such as the persecution of the LGTBI community. This Tuesday, the parliamentary groups of PP and Vox in the Madrid Assembly have pointed out that both parties “continue negotiating” the repeal of the LGTBI laws of 2016 from the stage of Cristina Cifuentes, one of their conditions to approve the budgets of the Community Madrid next year. The popular ones depend on Vox also in Andalusia and Murcia.
In his latest book, Applebaum looks at the Vox phenomenon in Spain, which he equates with that of other European extreme rights and the American alternative right. The journalist describes Santiago Abascal’s party as “the only party that gave voice to a strident and anti-separatist Spanish nationalism” and identifies the ingredients of its success: “The opposition to Catalan and Basque separatism; opposition to same-sex marriage; opposition to feminism; opposition to immigration, especially Muslim immigration, anger at corruption or boredom with dominant politics, plus a handful of issues such as hunting and gun ownership, which some people care about and others don’t, all accompanied with a certain vein of libertarianism, a certain talent for derision and a certain whiff of restorative nostalgia ”. What the Spanish extreme right offers, Applebaum analyzes, “was not an ideology, but an identity, carefully selected, packaged for easy consumption and ready to be promoted through a viral campaign. All their slogans spoke of unity, harmony and tradition ”.