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Exciting patriotic music fills a square in the city of Valladolid, where around a thousand Spaniards are gathered chanting “Long live Spain!”.

The gathering’s fervor grows as Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain’s far-right Vox party, takes the podium in Valladolid, the capital of the northwestern region of Castilla y León.

He has just gotten off his motorcycle to present the party’s candidate for the upcoming regional elections on February 13.

Abascal captivates his audience for the next hour. From meat consumption levels to climate change, it covers all the bases and the crowd roars with approval.

Who is the Vox party in Spain?

Vox is the third political force in Spain, but now it seems to be on an upward trajectory at the regional and national levels.

According to recent polls, the party could win ten seats in Castilla y León compared to only one in the last regional elections in May 2019.

Nationally, it could capture up to 20.5% of the vote, up from 10.3% in 2019, according to the Electomania poll published on January 16, 2022.

The next elections will be held before December 10 of next year.

Founded in 2013, it won 24 seats in its debut campaign in April 2019, rising to 52 in new elections in November of that year.

A first candidate in the government?

In Valladolid, Abascal presents the 30-year-old lawyer Juan García-Gallardo, who could be the first Vox candidate to enter the government, albeit a regional one, in a coalition with the conservative Popular Party (PP).

Vox leader Abascal defended García-Gallardo to the crowd, blaming the media for focusing on the candidate’s decade-long Twitter history.

Garcia-Gallardo recently deleted tweets calling for “heterosexualizing” the sport and calling women “ridiculous” for demanding equal treatment.

But Abascal paints him as a family man who cares about the interests of his country. His followers seem to agree.

“What man in this world hasn’t talked about women like that or thrown around the term ‘queer’?” says the financier and supporter of Vox Alejandro, who prefers not to reveal his full name, not, he adds, because he is ashamed of his convictions but simply because it is better for business.

“Everything Vox says is represented incorrectly,” he explains.

Like Alejandro, many Vox supporters used to back the PP. Seventy-six percent of the party’s supporters are also men.

A polarizing message

One of the party’s main problems is its portrayal in the media, with Abascal portraying supporters as victims, telling the crowd that if they defend their country they are called fascists, or if they defend their borders, racists.

Spain is also a victim, according to the party.

“Spain is under attack from illegal immigration,” Vox vice president Jorge Buxadé tells Euronews.

“The situation is very serious; we are importing acts of violence and crime. There is crime linked to traffickers and another type of crime that did not exist in Spain before, such as sexual assaults on women by gangs.

Buxadé accuses the media of refusing to report on the crimes of immigrants, but in a press conference he listed the crimes of immigrants from North Africa without mentioning the crimes of the Spanish.

However, according to the country’s National Statistics Institute, Spaniards were responsible for 74% of all crimes committed in 2020 and 73.4% of sexual assaults.

Buxadé believes that “politics is polarization” and that message seems to work for some in a country governed by a socialist coalition and struggling with the sixth wave of the pandemic, skyrocketing energy prices, high youth unemployment and worrying inflation rates.

Could the party really win in 2023?

The victories in Castilla y León in February and the regional elections in Andalusia at the end of this year could pave the way for the Palacio de la Moncloa – seat of the national government – in 2023.

“We believe that Spain is at the right time to put Vox in the Spanish government with Santiago Abascal as president,” Buxadé tells Euronews.

Maverick Twitter personality Luis “Alvise” Pérez, 31, who is credited with influencing PP candidate Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s landslide victory in the 2021 Madrid regional elections, said class voters workers are disappointed “that even a party as anti-system as Podemos [leftist populist party] He has not been able to change his circumstances. So they go for the newest party.”

“When they see that any criticism of the left or any defense of a party like Vox outrages to the point of criminalizing it, it becomes attractive,” says the self-styled political analyst about the younger support for Vox.

“Vox is seen as the victim. It has become cool and alternative that young people support Vox because it is seen as a party outside the system that actually comes to change things.

Left-wing activist and author of The Bull by the Horns: Vox, The European Extreme Right and the Working Class Vote, Fidel Oliván Navarro, agrees that social media could explain at least part of Vox’s growing appeal across the board. scopes.

“It is the only party that has changed its language on social networks,” he tells Euronews.

“The rest of the parties, perhaps Podemos to a lesser extent, use a very institutional language to communicate. Vox’s exit from this could be attracting some young voters.”

Fidel Oliván does not believe, however, that Vox is invading a lot of traditionally left-wing territory: “it is not the party of resistance,” he says.

“It would be difficult for them to represent the fight when they actually represent the establishment more than any of the other parties. They are not like the far right in France and Germany,” he adds. “The traditional right in other countries does not support the populist extreme right, but here PP and Vox work very well together.”

Oliván is also not convinced by Vox’s efforts to attract the workers’ vote with a workers’ union that they have baptized Solidarity. “It’s a counter-union,” he says. “Defend the right not to strike.”

But Oliván does say that the 2011 leftist anti-austerity movement, also known as 15/M, which became United We Can, has left those seeking an anti-establishment alternative in the lurch.

“They promised the common people something big and then said, ‘Oh well, that’s it. We’re going home!’ Now there is no one behind the wheel,” he says. “I think it was quite irresponsible to stir up sentiment against the system and not carry it out.”

If there is a void, Vox is quick to fill it with differentiation claims that are clearly persuasive and drive the party’s parallel reality, in which climate change cannot be allowed to interfere with our daily lives:

“Of course, we have to protect the environment and natural resources,” Vox vice president Buxadé tells Euronews. “But that cannot be done to the detriment of human beings and their economic activity.”

As neoliberals who want to cut government, send illegal immigrants home, and bolster cattle ranching, do they really stand a chance in Moncloa?

“My only political prognosis is that a prognosis cannot be made,” says historian and far-right specialist Xavier Casals. “But I don’t see them in national power in 2023.”

Every day of the week, Uncovering Europe brings you a European story that goes beyond the headlines. Download the Euronews app to receive a daily alert for this and other breaking news notifications. Is available in Apple Y Android devices.

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