According to the latest polls, it is possible that the Spanish right will return to power in Madrid and end the parenthesis embodied by the socialist Pedro Sánchez and his leftist and regionalist allies. The Galician conservative Alberto Núñez Feijóo, appointed head of the People’s Party (PP) last year, has established himself as a leader with a pragmatic and managerial profile, avoiding controversy and distancing himself from the far right.
He is advancing without a bang, just like his friend Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, the conservative president of Andalusia who obtained an absolute majority last June in this former stronghold of the socialists and without having had recourse to the support of the extreme party right Vox. The regional and local elections this Sunday should reflect this trend.
“Feijó avoids as much as possible the questions of society and the ideological quarrels that mobilize Vox, around the family, feminism and immigration, believes political scientist Pablo Simón, professor at Carlos III University in Madrid. Its objective is to absorb the electorate of its former liberal allies in Ciudadanos as well as a fringe of disappointed socialists. He is aiming for a return to his fold of conservative voters who had gone to Vox for a vote of release and who will naturally come back to him when he is in a position of strength. »
Ideally, the conservatives hope to regain power without resorting to on-the-ground alliances with the far right as is the case in Castile and León, where the PP and Vox govern together. “The arrival of the new leader of the PP had a calming effect on the right, explains Fernando Vallespín, who teaches political science at UAM, the autonomous university of Madrid. If the party is doing better, it is because it has found the centre-right and is showing signs of moderation, so now would not be the time to blur this image with a rapprochement with Vox. »
A provocative tone that seduces the right-wing electorate
Yet conservatives may need Vox, if not to govern, at least to be allowed to form local coalitions. “The Spanish far right was born out of a split with moderate conservatives and until Vox entered the country’s institutions in 2016, Vox’s electorate was assimilated into the Popular Party, deciphers Fernando Vallespin. The moderate right knows well that part of its own electorate appreciates the provocative tone of Vox. It cannot therefore reject them all at once. »
Many right-wing voters had been seduced by the Spanish identity speech of the president of Vox, Santiago Abascal, who defends the rights of Spaniards in the face of immigration and the values of national unity in the face of the split proposed by the Basque separatists and Catalans.
Today, Santiago Abascal, an admirer of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, with whom he maintains ties of friendship, is counting on the Italian dynamic to breathe new life into his training. “Italy shows the way for a Europe of sovereign, proud and free nations”, he had declared on the day of the victory of the party of Giorgia Meloni, hoping to follow the same path. Unsuccessful bet. Vox failed to replicate the 2019 election breakthrough and appears to have lost momentum. The latest polls put him in fourth position behind the new left-wing Sumar party, led by Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz. “Vox does not seem capable today of obtaining an absolute majority in important cities, but its role could be decisive in the formation of right-wing local governments”, assures political scientist Pablo Simon.
Vox destabilized in Madrid
The Madrid region, governed by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who embodies the hardest wing of the PP and who could again this evening obtain an absolute majority, applies a different strategy vis-à-vis the far right. . “She is one-upmanship, leaving Vox without arguments and when she needs their support, she weaves occasional alliances, without qualms”, explains academic Pablo Simon.
Thus, she did not hesitate to engulf herself in the controversy around the candidacy of former “terrorists” on the municipal lists of the separatists of the Bildu party, in the Basque Country, who supported numerous laws passed by the left. The one who aspires to become Prime Minister, has not done in the lace. “ETA has not disappeared and the terrorists are Pedro Sánchez’s allies”, she said leaving Vox executives speechless. Enough to force the leader of the conservatives, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, to find a balance between the moderate vote of the center right and the ultra temptation.