The president of the community of Madrid and darling of the conservative Right, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has recently expressed support for Spain’s abortion laws, which allow women as young as sixteen to receive state-funded abortions without their parents’ permission or notification.
Her remarks on the issue were somewhat ambivalent, admitting that the country’s original 1985 legalization of abortion was based on a wider consensus than the more expansive legislation spearheaded by Prime Minister Zapatero in 2010. She did, however, refuse to advocate for repealing the eased restrictions that commenced under Zapatero’s administration. Díaz Ayuso also made it clear that she believes abortion ‘rights’ need to be respected, even if attempts are made to incentivize carrying pregnancies to term. She expressed frustration at the fact that this issue tends to surface near election season, as though it were a mere ‘culture war’ distraction.
These remarks illustrate the degree to which the political Right suffers from what we might term a ‘false consciousness.’ Díaz Ayuso’s voters, who make up a commanding majority of Madrid’s residents, include conservatives that perceive her as a whip against the ruling leftist coalition as well as against the center-right’s all-too-accommodating establishment (having had a contentious relationship to the national leadership of her party, the People’s Party, or PP).
Her support for abortion (indeed, her ambivalence towards some of the most permissive abortion laws in Europe) might therefore come as a surprise to some.
That the regional president’s conservatism is largely illusory, however, with her most solid commitments being more or less circumscribed to economic liberalism, has been clear for some time.
If the issue of abortion and informing the parents of a young woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy is a recurring concern for voters, so is that of mass immigration. In this context, Díaz Ayuso has lambasted VOX for requesting to know the nationality of criminals and, specifically, of unaccompanied minors entering Madrid illegally, arguing that such a request contradicts the Christian faith. Unlike the issue of abortion, it seems Christian doctrine (albeit a spurious take thereon) is relevant here.
VOX, for its part, does support strengthening ties with the Spanish-speaking world, my thoughts on which project I explore here, and includes prominent members of Argentine and Cuban origin.
She has, likewise, expressed frustration at VOX’s references to Latin American gangs as a foreign import. Concerning violence perpetrated by such gangs, including the Latin Kings, she tweeted that describing their activity as a consequence of immigration is the same as criticizing immigration from one Spanish region to another, because Latin Americans are Spanish.
That an entire continent (and a half) should consist of Spaniards poses the problem of how to apply so thorough an irredentism. Díaz Ayuso, for her part, insinuates that it might justify freedom of movement on what would be a staggeringly impractical scale.
Whatever the case, Madrid’s regional president has several times employed much of the same rhetoric as the Left to bully dissenting voices into keeping quiet over the negative impact of immigration—the latter being one of the means through which she aims to keep Madrid’s economy buoyant.
This is connected to her most conservative policy, which involves pro-natalist welfare—in itself perfectly laudable and long-overdue. The program in question includes subsidies for businesses in proportion to how many children their employees have, as well as in return for facilitating flexible work arrangements.
Given that this policy applies to mothers under the age of thirty who have been living in Madrid for at least five years, however, it is (at least in the short and medium-term) quite predictably going to serve to subsidize migrant families, which are larger than average (as well as beginning at a younger age). The original draft of the program limited aid to those residing in Madrid for at least a decade, but Díaz Ayuso struck this down.
There is also a danger that the subsidies will incentivize scams whereby ‘business owners’ hire persons with large families to work from home, barely constituting themselves as a functional entity with a physical premises. There will, no doubt, be safeguards against this, but the larger point stands.
There are plenty more policies worth criticizing—just as there is much in her administration of Madrid that deserves praise—but, to summarize, we may conclude that Díaz Ayuso’s support is in no small part the result of:
1) Ordinary (reactionary) political dialectics: the Left’s economic policies are so unmitigatedly disastrous that they are eliciting a mad rush towards the Right, in whatever form.
2) A long-standing ‘false consciousness,’ partly resulting from the preceding point, whereby the electorate interprets individualistic, liberal language as a conservative reaction against ‘woke’ impositions.
At present, much of the Spanish electorate is willing to prioritize ending a disastrous leftist tenure over rejecting the establishment Right. Consequently, the center-right PP is poised to win the next elections despite operating under the banner of a business-as-usual bloodless technocracy, and being run by career politicians whose ideological commitments are more or less the same as their socialist party (PSOE) rivals.
In this climate of likely victory for the Right, the one-time apparent contrast between the PP’s national direction and Díaz Ayuso (‘establishment’ vs. ‘rogue’) is fast dissolving. VOX’s recent campaigning (or lack thereof) has, for its part, lapsed into tepid deference to the PP.
Pending a course-correction by VOX, the Spanish party-political landscape is conforming itself to the familiar dialectic between socially liberal Left and economically liberal Right. Indeed, the Left is now very much pro-corporate, and the Right is pro-abortion and gay marriage, constituting a solid general consensus among the political class—a consensus as broad as it is detached from the country’s needs.
Carlos Perona Calvete is a writer for The European Conservative. He has a background in International Relations and Organizational Behavior, has worked in the field of European project management, and is currently awaiting publication of a book in which he explores the metaphysics of political representation.