Does Vox really mean to govern Spain like this?
Of course Vox has the right hold rallies wherever it wants to, provided others in the legitimate exercise of their own constitutional functions, as was the case yesterday with the central government office in Ceuta and the regional High Court in Andalusia. That is not the question. Abascal would one day like to be Prime Minister. So the question is about the political judgment and strategy of the party, its competence to govern the Nation in authentic crises in the real world and even about its patriotism and ideas on national identity (key concepts in the discourse the party sells to its voters) for all Spaniards in a country that is, in fact and constitutionally, politically very plural and more so now than at any other time since the Transition in the 1970s.
As much as Abascal and Vox rant on Twitter about leftists, "fifth columnists", "fanatics who shouted 'Allahu akbar'", or "Cuca Otegi" (in reference to the Popular Party spokeswoman today), t the people who banned their rally yesterday in Ceuta were the central government office, which has a legitimate say on these things, backed by a ruling from three senior judges from the First Chamber of the Administrative Division of the regional High Court of Andalusia in Seville: "all parties were notified by telephone". "At the appointed time, only the Attorney General's office appeared." Vox did not appear before the court, nor did they call off their rally, as some have rushed to argue today. They announced some other thing about an hour before it was scheduled to begin: that Abascal was going to speak to the press in front of his hotel. If you know since the morning that your rally is not allowed, what are you doing still in Cueta almost until the time it is supposed to begin without mentioning any change of plan to your supporters? Why didn't the party publish an explicit cancellation?
Yesterday evening, the central government office, which today has not offered any further assessment of yesterday's events, despite repeated questions from this journalist, had banned all demonstrations, but both sides were still on the streets. Most likely, Vox opponents learned of the new or alternate plan from the party's own announcement. The central government office should have published the court order yesterday, so people would have known at least what the court had ruled legally and thus been able to decide if they wanted to take part in a banned rally or not.
Abascal even went so far as to say in the hotel that "agents of different secret services" had organized a "planned operation" against Vox. Today, the party has tried to defend, vehemently as is it always does, its story in the media, to the point of questioning the probity of the magistrates of a regional high court. The same party that correctly defended the Constitution and the rule of law during the separatist crisis in Catalonia in 2017.
At the political level in Ceuta, Vox has managed to reap an astonishing second statement from all of the other local parties against division: "There are more of us, many more, who want a Ceuta in which we can all live in peace and harmony, a Ceuta of cultural diversity, which distinguishes us and enriches us as a people". "All people in Ceuta, Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus, are and feel Spanish above any other condition", says the message, signed by all of the other parties and read out loud by the First Minister of the Spanish North African city, Vivas (PP). Obviously, they all condemned the violence late last night.
Abascal and Vox have already made two partisan trips to Ceuta in 10 days of crisis. As far as I can see, they have not helped to solve anything, either at the local level in Ceuta nor at the national level with the geopolitical and diplomatic part. They have questioned the good word of judges and court officers in a public document to try to defend their media narrative. Their rhetoric offers a vision of national identity that excludes rather than includes, one that the parties in Ceuta have portrayed very well in their second statement today. By dividing so many Spaniards so vehemently, if Abascal ever makes it to the Prime Minister's office one day, it is going to be difficult for him to govern the nation in a constructive way and the enemies of Spain that he mentions so much will find it very easy to provoke him and set all kinds of foreign policy traps for him to rush in to and waste opportunities and resources.
Get the articles straight in your email inbox. In English and/or Spanish. No ads, no spam, just reporting and analysis. Readers guarantee this journalism. Join them.