Vox chose a working-class neighborhood to reappear and launch its campaign for the May 4 elections. With electoral forecasts that predict worse results than those harvested two years ago and Isabel Díaz Ayuso monopolizing a large part of her votes, the far-right formation chose this Wednesday to schedule its first act in Vallecas. The call mobilized hundreds of residents and members of anti-fascist groups. “Fascists out of our neighborhoods” was a cry that resounded in the Constitution Square of the Madrid district, where Rocío Monasterio and Santiago Abascal took the floor to charge against the insecurity in the neighborhoods and illegal immigration. The event, which attracted more protesters than followers, ended with several police charges, once Santiago Abascal, annoyed that the protest did not let his utterances be heard, decided to approach the protesters with his security team. There the first charge of the riot control took place and a pitched battle broke out. Result: four detainees, one agent wounded and another 17 with bruises, from throwing bottles, stones and other objects. Vox adds to that list a deputy of his, who according to the party had to be treated in the hospital for a stone on his hand.
The Spanish extreme right does not capture the workers’ vote: Vox stands out in the rich neighborhoods of the big cities
It is not the first time that Vox has launched a campaign ensuring that its objective will be focused on seducing the workers’ vote. They already did so in the previous regional elections, at that time they opted for an industrial estate in the Barajas neighborhood. The polls did not ratify their strategy on May 26, 2019.
In Vallecas, a demarcation that groups the districts of Villa de Vallecas and Puente de Vallecas, Vox was the last political force, with 5.8% of the votes then. This historic Madrid neighborhood encompasses more than 350,000 inhabitants and in it the average net income per household is 28,500 euros. Their neighbors opted mostly for left-wing formations in the regional elections held two years ago, the right only obtained 33% of the support. Ahead of Monastery were the headliners of the PSOE (34%), Más Madrid (23%), Ciudadanos (14.7%), PP (12.2%) and Unidas Podemos (8.8%).
At the national level, Abascal reaped better results in the general elections of November 2019. Vox managed to be fourth force (13.3%), just over one point behind the PP (14.9%). The Socialists won the elections in this neighborhood with 35.4% of the support, followed by United We Can with 20.5%. Más País (7.2%) and Ciudadanos (7.1%) garnered less support than the extreme right in Vallecas.
“That Vox or any party of the right is not the first force in more popular districts does not mean that there are not people who vote for them”, highlights the political scientist Eduardo Bayón. “The worker who votes for the right is not a myth but it is a minority behavior”, adds Luis García Tojar, professor of Sociology and Political Communication at the Complutense University of Madrid. This teacher remarks that the problem that progressive formations have “in working-class neighborhoods is not that they vote for the right, but rather that they do not vote.”
An “offside” pre-campaign
Among the few messages that Vox was able to launch on Wednesday in the red square of Vallecas there were accusations of treason to the neighborhood by Pablo Iglesias, one of its former residents. “They have betrayed you,” cried Abascal and Monastery from the stage. Subsequent incidents have returned the far-right formation to the media spotlight, from which they had moved away in recent weeks. “It was being a pre-campaign in which they were out of the game,” adds Bayón, who highlights that this Wednesday “the center” of political information in Madrid was “the Vox act in Vallecas.”
Leaders of the left such as Pablo Iglesias himself and Íñigo Errejón have accused Abascal and Monasterio of going to provoke those neighborhoods that Vox leaders call “multicultural dunghills.” PP and Ciudadanos have come out in defense of Vox and the candidate Rocío Monasterio came to ask for the outlawing of all parties that did not condemn the altercations on Wednesday in Vallecas.
Vox’s electoral expectations in the May 4 elections were not very optimistic before Wednesday’s episode. The CIS predicts that the extreme right-wing force would lose momentum compared to previous elections, giving it 5.4% of the vote. Five tenths of not entering the Madrid Assembly. According to this survey, the candidacy of Monastery would go from the 12 seats it achieved two years ago to nine. Even so, Vox would once again have a determining role for Ayuso to repeat as head of the Government of the Community of Madrid, but the different polls indicated that the extreme right was going downhill in the face of the strength of Díaz Ayuso.
In this context, Bayón does not consider it to be “a coincidence” that the Abascal formation has chosen to start its campaign in the Puente de Vallecas district, “a fiefdom of the left, linked to social and neighborhood movements and where their data from vote are the penultimate worst of the last autonomic and general “. The political scientist considers that this decision seeks to “confront and polarize”, as well as “mobilize the vote in other fishing grounds” where they obtain more support. For García Tojar, this “uproar” allows them to “maintain that victimizing identity that they have cultivated so much.”
In the same vein, the spokespersons of three social groups in the district are positioned. They consider “a provocation” the visit of the leaders of the far-right formation to the Plaza de la Constitución in Vallecas. The president of the Puente de Vallecas neighborhood association, Jorge Nacarino, recalls that these incidents “already occurred in the campaign in Catalonia”, alluding to what happened in an event organized in Salt (Girona) in which the Vox politicians were received with launches of various objects.
At that time, Abascal charged against the Ministry of the Interior of the Catalan Generalitat, and in Vallecas he chose to criticize the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande Marlaksa, for the police device deployed. “They use confrontation and the breakdown of coexistence to obtain electoral gains. This is one of the issues that most concern us, that we can give a letter of nature to a political party, whatever the sign, has to destroy coexistence in order to achieve their goals “, highlights Nacarino.
Like most neighborhood associations, these groups maintain dialogue with the parties represented in the City Council and the Assembly. In relation to the activity carried out by the training in the neighborhood, since he obtained municipal representation, Nacarino emphasizes that “nobody” knows his councilors “because of their action in the district.” “The political incidence of its members in the municipal district council is quite insignificant and conspicuous by its absence,” he adds.
For his part, the spokesman for the far-right formation, Javier Ortega-Smith, declared a few months after arriving at the Madrid City Council “the political war” —those were his words— to the Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid ( FRAVM), to which the organization chaired by Nacarino belongs and with a long history in the defense of the neighborhoods, assuring that it was a “chiringuito”. This attitude of Vox has caused that there is no dialogue, at least in Puente de Vallecas, between the neighborhood association and the formation of the extreme right.
This Wednesday Ortega Smith tried to approach the residents of Vallecas by assuring the media that “it is a neighborhood that is characterized in Madrid by hardworking people, who know what it is to get up early, who know what it is to sweat and earn a job. with the sweat of his brow “.
The high number of attendees and the tension in the environment prevented the protesters from hearing these words, even so the people who came to protest the presence of Vox in the Plaza de la Constitución repeatedly recalled the work career of the president of the formation of extreme right, with a curriculum marked by positions to finger or in institutional positions like councilman and provincial and autonomic deputy. “Abascal, get to work” was one of the most repeated songs.
24 hours after the incidents that occurred in Vallecas, the feelings of the residents of the area are at odds. Monica, who lives a few meters from the square that hosted the event, found the actions of some protesters “shameful”. “Neither one nor the other are right. It was excessive. Everyone has the right to say whatever they want,” he says. However, Marian, also a resident of the area, “had her blood boiled” when she saw the act of Abascal and Monastery on television. Until seven in the afternoon he was in the park attached to the square, but when the first Vox politicians began to arrive, he left for “fear” of the tension that was perceived in the environment.
The social groups consulted consider that there is little chance that the Vox message will penetrate its neighbors. They allude to the electoral results obtained in the last elections and the number of attendees mobilized for the Vallecas event. “The largest group in yesterday’s protest was the anti-fascist,” Myrian Espinoza, spokesman for the PAH de Vallecas, begins by highlighting, “they [en alusión a Vox] they were accompanied by a minority group, which supports them precisely because they have no support in Vallecas. “Espinoza claims that Vallecas has” a residential need “and underlines” the discrimination suffered by racialized groups. ”
“At the level of public services, the neighborhood has many shortcomings. In the pandemic we have seen how Primary Care has collapsed in our neighborhood. We continue to have claims that there is a lack of nursery schools and that the dependency has very great shortcomings, which we do not observe in other neighborhoods with higher incomes, and that mean that almost all the care work has to be done at home and in the private sphere, “continues Julia, a member of 8M in Vallecas.
In his speech at the Vallecas rally, Monasterio made a brief allusion to public health. However, a large part of the messages that the politicians of the far-right formation launched focused on the program that they have been repeating for years: insecurity always linked to immigration and occupation. There were no specific allusions to the specific needs claimed by social groups.
On May 4 it will be known if Vox triumphs in its approach to the workers’ vote and if it manages to steal support from the left or the PP. Bayón does not see it as feasible, he considers that in these elections Vox “has a serious problem” because Ayuso “has assumed the tone and form” of a political discourse capable of “competing with the extreme right.”