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Spain: the far right has not triumphed (but it is not as good news as it seems)

The 2024 European elections they have distorted the map of the Union: the victory of the far right in France has induced the French president Emmanuel Macron to call legislative elections before the counting in the country was even completed. In Germany, the rise of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland has the weakened chancellor on the ropes Olaf Scholz. Brothers of Italy of the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni reconfirmed its triumph in Sunday’s elections. The right-wing extremists of Geert Wilders they won five seats and became the second largest political force in the Netherlands. There is only one of the five large European economies where the far right has not been a protagonist: the Spaina country accustomed to two-party politics, where the dispute between the People’s Party and the Socialists absorbed 64.1% of the votes in these elections.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons for concern. While the main arena closely follows the fight between Pedro Sanchez And Alberto Núñez Feijóo, Vox continues to be the third political force in Spain (in Congress it already is), increasing the number of seats by two. Meanwhile, the new platform bulista of the far-right agitator Alvise Pérez bursts onto the scene with three seats. In total, 14.6% of the votes, with a worrying peak in the youth vote. This is not a much lower percentage than those achieved by the AfD in Germany (15.6%) or by Wilders in the Netherlands (17.7%). But stands out less in Spain where the traditional parties, PSOE and PP, have managed to hold on at the expense of their allies.

However, the first political victim of the elections is not so much the rise of the right, but rather the implosion of the most recent left-wing project: Yolanda Diaz, still vice president of the government, left the leadership of Sumar, just a year after its foundation. The platform has failed to capitalize on the strength once enjoyed by Podemos (which survives in the European Parliament with two seats, thanks to a personalist campaign led by the former minister Irene Montero) and its weakness left the main political force of the coalition, the historic Izquierda Unida, outside the chamber. But the failure can only be interpreted as one’s own: a disappointment irrelevant to the results of the far right.

The Spanish result is not easy to contextualise. Currently, Spain is one of the economic locomotives of the Union thanks to remarkable economic growth (the highest in Europe), record employment and the ability of Pedro Sánchez’s socialism to resist the crises that afflict the continent (his recipes «anti-austerity» had resonance in Brussels in the post-Covid European funds as well as in the transfer of the «Iberian exception» to energy spending). However, although far-right campaigns are not based on truthful data and appeal above all to emotions (an area in which Pedro Sánchez is a master at winning elections), the country’s relatively good performance (shaken like the others by the hyperinflation that hit the world after the invasion of Ukraine and post-pandemic, eroding citizens’ purchasing power) it ensures that hateful or apocalyptic speeches do not take hold so easily.

The fact that the People’s Party opened the doors to Vox in various autonomous communities as well as in some large municipal administrations has served to demonstrate the lack of relevance of Vox: its weight in local coalitions has not gone beyond a social and cultural agenda that is more symbolic than real, which finds little reflection in the lives of the majority part of the electorate beyond the big headlines in the newspapers. Ciudadanos, a now defunct liberal party, had a greater capacity to manage agreements with the PP, and not even this prevented it from being devoured, digested and absorbed by the People’s Party, something that Feijóo seeks at all costs. This coalition attrition also takes its toll on Vox: every time its leader Santiago Abascal he raises his voice against the PP, it is difficult for him to avoid going arm in arm with them. The same problem he had Yolanda Diaz in differentiating itself from the PSOE.

But these national readings do not eliminate the two underlying problems. The success of the far right in all countries (with the exception of Portugal and a slight decline in Sweden and Finland) points to the perpetual crisis at the heart of Europe: liberal democracies have few recipes to offer to an exhausted citizenry (when not affected byaustericide following the 2008 financial crisis) for which the mantra of living better than one’s parents proved false; and at the same time they are unable to overcome the challenges of another harmful pandemic, that of propaganda on social networks and on Telegram, where the truth has long since ceased to have the slightest value. The success of the far right consists in presenting themselves as revolutionaries or saviors of a system in crisis. That is how Marine Le Pen achieved his victory with a purely economic appeal (“return purchasing power to the French”) and by building a state party profile for about ten years, partly imitated by Meloni, which has not yet been replicated by other similar forces in Europe, but which was able to channel discontent by applying in advance the recipes of Trumpism developed at the time by the now condemned Steve Bannon. A diagnosis which José María Lassalle (former Secretary of State for Culture during the government of Mariano Rajoy and author of two absolutely essential books on these topics, Cyberleviatán y Artificial Civilization) has been adding another for years: the political victories of right-wing extremists demonstrate that “fascism was still latent among us”. And now they have around 150 seats out of 720 in the European Parliament.

Source: Vanity Fair

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