Spanish Conservatives Are Unlikely to Normalize Vox

Far from drawing Vox to the center, the People’s Party has been pulled to the right.

Esteban González Pons
Esteban González Pons, the group leader of Spain’s conservative People’s Party in the European Parliament, gives a news conference in Madrid, June 13, 2022 (PP)

Spanish conservatives still hope they can neutralize the far right by cooperating with it.

Esteban González Pons, the group leader of Spain’s People’s Party in the European Parliament, told The New York Times that bringing Vox (Voice) into the government might “normalize” it:

Vox will be another party, a conservative party inside of the system.

Polls predict the People’s Party (PP) will win the election this month with 31 to 37 percent support. It would need Vox’s 12 to 15 percent for a majority.

To his credit, Pons acknowledged there is a risk: “We can legitimize Vox.” Arguably, it already has by not ruling out a coalition.

Vox has never moderated its views

Pons’ is the triumph of hope over experience. Previous attempts to meet Vox halfway didn’t convince the far-right party to moderate its views.

When the PP suspended Catalonia’s self-government after the region held an independence referendum in 2017, Vox proposed to withdraw it permanently.

When the PP suggested Brexit might be an opportunity to share control of Gibraltar with the British, Vox simply demanded the peninsula back.

When the PP argued Spain could not absorb an infinite number of immigrants, Vox proposed to “reconquer” Spain from Muslims.

The PP would reverse a law allowing girls to get an abortion from the age of 16 without a parents’ approval. Vox would recriminalize abortion altogether.

It would also revoke animal-rights and environmental legislation passed by the outgoing left-wing Congress.

Pons said Vox’s views on gay rights and violence against women “are red lines for us.” The party would repeal marriage equality and restrict same-sex couples to civil unions. It would also revoke stiffer sentences for men who beat or kill their wives.

PP has been pulled to the right

Far from drawing Vox to the center, the PP has been pulled to the right.

It always fought Catalan autonomy. Now it would suspend self-government in the region if the separatists keep winning elections there.

It always opposed teaching in Catalan, but in recent years it has taken legal action against what it calls a policy of “linguistic apartheid” against children from Spanish-speaking families. With success: the Supreme Court ruled Catalan education must be at least 25 percent in Spanish (Castilian).

In order to form a government with Vox in Valencia, the region south of Catalonia, the PP agreed to avoid all mention of gender-based violence and gay rights. In the municipalities of Náquera and Torrijos, the two right-wing parties banned rainbow flags.

The most popular figure in the PP is not the insipid national party leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, but the rowdy governor of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. She refused to close businesses, schools and theaters to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the name of “freedom” and calls critical media “fake news”.

The Trumpist rhetoric is not a coincidence. Like the PP, Republicans in the United States for years appeased their right wing, thinking they could control it. Now it controls them.

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