As expected, on October 22nd, 2020 the motion of no-confidence filed by the conservative party VOX failed after a heated two-day debate in the Spanish parliament.
It only managed to secure the votes of its own 52 deputies in Congress in its bid to oust Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) from power, while 298 legislators voted against the initiative.
The only surprise was the ruthless attack of Partido Popular (PP) leader Pablo Casado against its supposed competitors on the right. In a speech that lasted just 16 minutes, the real enemy seemed to be Santiago Abascal, the head of VOX and his beliefs.
At a crucial moment, when the reconstruction of the center right is the biggest challenge that those who don’t hate Spain face, he staged a total break with those that the Left simply calls “Fascists” and “Francoists”.
Casado denied that the motion was actually fired against Sánchez but against the PP, to which Abascal belonged for 15 years before leaving in 2013. Speaking of “disloyalty”, he sounded resentful and disgusted.
In addition, Casado accused VOX of wasting everyone’s time in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic’s second wave, with a million infections just confirmed all over the country. Unfortunately, he didn’t ask whose responsibility this obvious disaster was.
He called the PP the “calm force of the Spanish people” and “the sensible and moderate Spain” who will represent it again, “once the page is turned on a short, however sinister period of history”.
VOX’s supporters seemed astonished, puzzled and sad. They couldn’t give credit to their ears, as Casado against better judgement signed up to the savage caricature of VOX and Abascal reflected in the mainstream media.
They called his attitude a shot in the foot, as PSOE and the Communists of Unidas Podemos (UI) congratulated him on his fiery words against those who had dared to challenge the corrupt, incompetent and shameless coalition government that is destroying the nation.
Abascal answered by stating that Casado had generated a brutal despair in millions of Spaniards who had hoped that the two opposition parties could talk and reach further agreements, deeply regretting what his new adversary had done.
Abascal also said that he would like the PP to sometimes simply thank VOX for having facilitated the regional governments of Andalusia, Madrid and Murcia, in exchange for zero favors.
Though the PP leadership has done exactly the opposite. The ad hominem challenge of Abascal, an injustice and a mistake, as well as the blasting of VOX as a whole might lead to the burning of all bridges with its voters.
VOX might be a fierce competitor on any election day, but Sánchez, UI helmsman Pablo Iglesias and above all their separatist friends by any means represent a bigger threat to Spain.
Therefore, Casado’s strategy seems pretty shortsighted. How Angela Merkel has ruined Germany’s Christian Democrats and the rise of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) should serve as a warning to him and those who deem the middle of the political spectrum as the only acceptable position.
Although it was clear from the beginning that the attempt would lead to nothing concrete, the symbolic character of Abascal’s bold move shouldn’t be underestimated. Casado finally took down his mask.
A PP abstention would have send a clear message to those who watch in despair how Spain is fast becoming a second Argentina. Without unity on the right and a total unnecessary polarization, who will be able to stop the accelerating destruction of the constitutional order?