This is how Vox has changed the map on the right

Vox was the great winner of the elections in Castilla y León on February 13. The near disappearance of Ciudadanos, instead of reinforcing the PP to govern alone, has fueled the party of Santiago Abascal and his debut candidate, Juan García-Gallardo, who far exceeded 17% of the vote, even above his result in this community in the 2019 general election.

The result of Vox opens a new stage in the political cycle in Spain. The third force in the Congress of Deputies is confirming urn by urn its position as the main competitor of the PP and has surpassed Ciudadanos in almost all the elections held since November 2019. With each defeat of the party led by Inés Arrimadas, the The key to governance on the right changes hands and now Vox wants to cross that door that leads to management positions, as Podemos and the ‘orange’ party did before.

Cs goes down, Vox goes up, but they are not communicating vessels

In all general elections since 2015, the percentage of votes for Ciudadanos in Castilla y León was higher than the national average. On Sunday they stayed at 4.5%, compared to 6.8% that were recorded in that community in the legislative elections of November 2019, when they reaped their worst result in a general election due to Rivera’s failed strategy of competing directly with the P.P.

In these elections in Castilla y León, the party headed by Francisco Igea has lost 11 of its 12 seats, 151,000 votes and 10.5 support points compared to those of May 2019, when they formed a government with the PP of Alfonso Pérez Mañueco . Practically the opposite of Vox, which has won 12 more attorneys, 137,000 votes and more than 12 points.

Although that it does not mean that all the lost ‘orange’ votes have become ballots for Vox, clarifies Pablo Simón, professor at the Carlos III University of Madrid. “Essentially, the vast majority are voters of the Popular Party, in a proportion of around 60%. There is a part that comes from Ciudadanos, around 15%, and the rest from other parties, abstentionists, etc. The origin of voters is multiple, but above all the one who ‘bites’ is the Popular Party and the most obvious proof is that Vox grows or is stronger in those contexts in which the PP is weaker“, as has been the case in Castilla y León but not in Madrid, due to the strength of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, he explains in statements to DatosRTVE.

Igea has managed to keep its seat in the Cortes, but it will no longer be decisive. That it has added 4.5% of the votes, above the 3.6% of those from Madrid, is a meager consolation before the next appointment with the polls, in principle the regional ones in Andalusia, the last community in which they govern in coalition with the PP.

Since 2019, Citizens has been accumulating failures and has faced a constant trickle of ‘leaks’ to the PP. “At the moment of truth, loses its three great flags: regeneration, a government of experts and not negotiating with nationalists or communists”, explains the political scientist Pablo Simón. “The first was lost when it did not facilitate the alternation of government in Castilla y León or Murcia; the second with the departure of politicians from the most social democratic and technocratic wing; the third flag, of opposition to independence, they lose it the moment they enter in competition with Vox and there is a stronger party on that issue”.

X-ray of the vote for Vox

In the electoral rise of Vox there is a mix of international wave to which Spain has not been alien. In fact, it moves in figures similar to those of the radical populist right or new extreme right of other countries, around 15% of the votes, Simón points out.

And it also has its own ingredients, political scientist Eduardo Bayón adds to DatosRTVE, which include “an important part of voters who believe that the response of the Government of Mariano Rajoy to the independence challenge in Catalonia was weak”, concrete positions “that have lost shame of expressing themselves”and components of “anti-politics and Spanish nationalist and conservative identity discourse”.

The vote for Vox is related in the first place to discontent and Spanish nationalism or centralism, to which sovereignist preferences against Europe, issues related to equality, gender and immigration policies are later incorporated. Topics that permeate even the youngest electorate, although, as Simón warns, the preference of young people for Vox is limited to the space on the right. It’s similar with rent. “It does not mean that the workers vote for Vox, but that right-wing workers vote for Vox -which is not the same- before the PP or Ciudadanos”.

and on the axis rural vote versus urban voteso present in the elections in Castilla y León, a party like Vox is competitive in this region of smaller cities, with a younger population than in the aging rural environment and where “new parties can compete more easily without having to have a strong structure with auditors, representatives, etc.”, explains the expert.

Autonomous maps are dyed green

Vox is experiencing its best moment since its first appearance in the general elections of 2015. They ousted Ciudadanos as the third political force in Congress and since then they have been dyeing the political maps green, with debutant candidates (Ignatius Garriga in Catalonia, Dew Monastery in Madrid) and some with little experience in public life (Juan Garcia-Gallardoin Castile and Leon).

They did not enter the Galician Parliament in July 2020 (one of the six that have resisted it, along with those of Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, La Rioja, the Canary Islands and Navarra), but they did in the Basque Parliament. They became the main right-wing party in Catalonia and in necessary partners in the Assembly of Madrid. In Castilla y León they aspire to something more: enter a regional government for the first time, with an eye on the Andalusian elections, for which she points as a possible candidate Macarena Olonadeputy in Congress for Granada although born in Alicante.

Its rise is seen in the small print of the municipalities, some very modest and others larger. In Castilla y León, Vox has gone from being the most voted party in a single municipality (Villan of Tordesillas, in Valladolid), to 80. In eight of them with more than 50% of the votes, all towns with less than 100 inhabitants except the aforementioned Villán de Tordesillas (123 residents), where it went from 41% to 53%. The locality where he has won with greater ease is also Valladolid, Ramiro, with 16 of the 27 votes cast (59.2%). And the largest municipalities where Vox has been the most voted are from Valladolid: Boecillo, Villanubla and Fuensaldaña.

Entering coalition governments is the new cycle

The agreements necessary to make Mañueco president again in Castilla y León have opened a new front in Spanish politics. The decision to agree or not with Vox that the PP will have to make will become an electoral weapon before the next elections in Andalusia and the municipal, regional and general elections of 2023.

Faced with the dilemma, “The aspiration seems clear: try to enter a government”, maintains Eduardo Bayón. “Vox has the incentive to legitimize itself as a government force, although it has risks, and the main one is to become a subordinate force as a minority partner”, which it believes could be mitigated with the three or four ministries “that can sell their electorate very well in the called ‘cultural battle’, with issues of education, equality policies or democratic memory”.

This possibility compensates wear risks that the small partner of any coalition suffers, in Simón’s opinion, and that it will take its toll on him in the Andalusian elections or in the municipal and regional elections next year. “It is impossible for Vox to wear out between now and 2023 by entering autonomous governments, because there is no time and because they are at a moment of growth, and that is an advantage for a new party,” he considers.

In fact, it is the PP that will have a problem if it does not form a coalition, both political scientists agree, because now the competitive tension between the two parties is increasing. And faced with the situation of breaking off the negotiations and rolling the dice again in an electoral repetition, Vox would arrive with the wind in its favor and the PP risks losing a victory that it has achieved by a single point of advantage with the PSOE.

The cordon sanitaire “arrives late”

Nor do both political scientists see the issue of the cordon sanitaire to Vox, which has emerged this week, and that for both “it is late.” The far-right party has already normalized its presence in the institutions from the moment that it supports government majorities, although it is not part of the Executive, and with the precedent of the counselor Mabel Campuzano, ex-Vox who, after the failed motion of censure in Murcia, took the Education portfolio in the PP government by Fernando Lopez Miras.

Even going back to other precedents, Vox would also benefit from this cordon sanitaire because “at a time of total reconfiguration of the political space, and with Podemos as part of the government, it would leave Vox at the national level and in Castilla y León as the main party of the opposition,” says Eduardo Bayón.

This is how things are, although the political noise will continue. The motto of the Vox campaign in Castilla y León was “Siembra”, a nod to a depopulated region and linked in the collective imagination to the granary of votes of the right. And that is what Abascal’s party aims to do: continue planting seeds to reap a good harvest the next time the polls open.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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