Thursday, September 23

The left reinvents the campaign: “Whether it’s democracy or fascism” | Elections in Madrid 4M

Pablo Iglesias, in an act of United We Can, together with Irene Montero and Yolanda Díaz.
Pablo Iglesias, in an act of United We Can, together with Irene Montero and Yolanda Díaz.Santi Burgos

An electoral campaign is always a draft that is thrown away every day. Hundreds of books have been written, strategies are designed, graphics are drawn, dozens of meetings are held. Everything is prepared with care, and in the end something always happens that destroys all plans.

The most shocking case is that of 2004, when the PP won comfortably on a Wednesday and lost overwhelmingly that Sunday after a disastrous political management of an attack with 180 deaths, which included an attempt to deceive millions of people enough hours to that they were to vote without being clear about the authorship of the massacre.

This time it is not a management error or a lie that has blown up the Madrid campaign. It is the conscious decision of Vox to be noticed at all costs, although for that it has to openly despise the direct death threats – and very credible this time, according to the police investigating the case – to the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande- Marlaska, the general director of the Civil Guard, María Gámez, and especially the candidate of United We Can, Pablo Iglesias, anathema to the group of Santiago Abascal, who has never sympathized with him for the daily harassment at his home in front of his young children and mocked that he had to suspend his vacation in Asturias.

Vox needed an issue to differentiate itself from the PP of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who was eating a lot of ground in Madrid, and has chosen him in his personal war without limits against Iglesias. Far from lowering the tension, Santiago Abascal decided to go up one more step yesterday and called Iglesias “the crybaby with the bow.” “They tell me about everything too and I don’t whine like a coward. And they really threaten me ”, he cried out in a bullring in San Sebastián de los Reyes, who got excited every time he spoke about the former vice president. The Vox leader assures that the thing about Iglesias and the four bullets directed at him and three members of his family “stinks of montage.”

The great news, which completely breaks the campaign, is that the left has decided to stand up to Vox. Meanwhile, the PP continues as if nothing had happened trusting that the days pass – there are 9 – the storm subsides and above all there is not a massive mobilization of the left, a ghost always feared by the Spanish right, because when it appears it devastates everything.

It happened in 2004, when thousands of habitual abstentionists, especially young people, went to vote for José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, outraged by José María Aznar’s lies or half-truths. But it also happened recently, in April 2019, when the photo of Colón – PP, Cs, Vox – that was the axis of the left bloc’s campaign, and the fear that Vox would win 60 seats, led to the first victory of the left block since 2009.

It was Pablo Iglesias, a true expert in electoral campaigns – he was already dedicated to advising candidates for IU long before Podemos was even an idea, and thus he met Yolanda Díaz or Alberto Garzón, today ministers – who gave the final blow on Friday, when he left the debate on Cadena SER while Rocío Monasterio, the Vox candidate, rebuked him: “Let him get up and leave if he is so brave, which is what a lot of Spaniards are wanting: for him to go of Spain at once ”. An hour later, after a break in which they were able to speak with the directors of their campaigns, the candidates of the PSOE, Ángel Gabilondo, and of Más País, Mónica García, also left the crossing and decided that they would not go to any other if Vox did not he retracts, something impossible now.

From that moment, the left-wing bloc acts with almost total harmony to launch a single message: the campaign is no longer just about management, pandemic, education and public health, left or right, but democracy in the face of the threat. that an extreme right like that of Vox, which in almost all the important countries of Europe is isolated and out of power, but in Spain it is about to access the Government of Madrid, a very important European region.

The turn of the campaign is of such caliber that the PSOE even quickly changed its motto and sent to print a new poster that presided over the central rally yesterday: “It’s not just Madrid. It is democracy ”. Adriana Lastra, a person of absolute confidence in Pedro Sánchez, went further in that meeting, in a different atmosphere than the previous weekend, as if something very important had changed and now the game was much more open than before. Lastra went to history to even remember the march on Rome that opened the way to Benito Mussolini’s fascism, and declared that the campaign is only about that dilemma, as then: “This is about democracy or fascism. Ayuso already chose, and did not choose democracy. They are here, with that stark hate speech. There is a candidate who represents the extreme right and she is not a Monastery. The PP and Vox are the same ”.

Ángel Gabilondo, the PSOE candidate, so far with a very moderate speech, changed the tone completely and publicly assumed the turn: “The campaign as we knew it is over. We must block the way to the extreme right for Madrid and for democracy. I appeal to progressives. A very strong PSOE can defeat hatred. We are facing a democratic emergency. Against the extreme right, the people of Madrid. Against the government of Colon, our freedom ”, he repeated.

Gabilondo’s focused campaign seeking the vote of Cs has been left behind in this second phase: now the priority is to mobilize until the last undecided vote of the left, especially in the industrial belt of southern Madrid, where people vote much less than in the wealthy neighborhoods north of the capital. In fact, the campaign of the three parties of the left bloc centers there. Yesterday the PSOE was in Vallecas, the historic working-class neighborhood, the one with the most progressive vote in Madrid.

Several strategists of the campaigns of the three groups on the left point out that there is already some data, still incipient, that shows a clear change in trend and a start of the dreamed of progressive mobilization. But there are many days left and there are no more debates, because the two that remained in La Sexta and in TVE have been canceled, so it will not be easy to maintain the tension that this unexpected turn has generated.

In any case, the source of the indignation of the progressives, which is the possibility that Vox reaches the government, is still there and above all it will not stop launching provocations such as the racist advertising poster against immigrant minors, which was also a milestone in a kind of placenta in which the outbreak of Friday was brewing.

In all the rallies of the left the same message was repeated, in an atmosphere of real concern and with a very serious tone. All with the word democracy as the guiding principle. “We are seeing it, democracy is very fragile. But we are not afraid of you, ”cried Yolanda Díaz, the third vice president and strong woman of Unidos Podemos in the Government. On Friday night, Iglesias also appealed to history, like Lastra, but he to the Spanish, to the arrival of democracy after Franco. “These elections are about democracy defending itself. Democracy in Spain was not brought by the seven ministers of the dictatorship founded by AP, nor by the King Emeritus. It was brought about by the struggle of the people from neighborhoods like this, ”he cried. And yesterday he finished off with the idea that it was not he with his abandonment of the debate in the SER who caused this wave, but the progressive people, on social networks, who made him grow and forced the PSOE and Más Madrid candidates as well they left. “There is a democratic majority in the Community of Madrid and in Spain that is watching the ears of the wolf and knows that democracy is in danger,” concluded Iglesias.

Although there are some tweaks, like this one from the Podemos leader, the three groups are no longer focused on competing with each other. It is already practically guaranteed that the three will exceed 5% – something that was at risk before Iglesias took the step – and therefore the only important thing is to add the absolute majority. The cast is less relevant. “They say that Más Madrid is not eating some land. If we add, for me as if it takes away even the livers ”, jokes a socialist leader.

Meanwhile, from the PP they see the situation with some tranquility. They are very convinced that their campaign will be effective and Ayuso will sweep away. But just in case, the candidate and the party leader, Pablo Casado, concentrated on putting the matter down and barely mentioned it.

Married also went to history, but to vindicate itself as a Democratic party. And for that he took advantage of the fact that he had in the first row Adolfo Suárez, son of the president of the Transition, who is a deputy of the PP. Ayuso was the one that made the most efforts to bury the issue that has blown up the campaign. She continues her business: “We have to enjoy elections that are going to change the course of Spain. You’re going to be the one to run it, Pablo. Let us not fall into sterile wars, into untouchable problems ”. “We are going against Sánchez, as always, we don’t change anything. The data does not move ”, they sentence in the PP.

Ayuso is on a truck at full speed towards a landslide victory and does not think to stop to see what that noise that sounds in the engine. But no one doubts that something important happened on Friday that has changed the campaign. Now it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to change the elections as well.

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