Spain’s national-conservative party VOX is changing its tactics to present its same conservative message as always, but less sharply, the Spanish newspaper El Debate reports.
According to El Debate, sources within the party confirmed for the news outlet that local leaders have been given orders from the party’s headquarters to maintain “the same message as always, the same party message throughout Spain,” but “to soften” the form of the delivery in their public discourse, a guideline the party’s supporter also welcome.
VOX formed in 2013 as an alternative to the mainstream, centre-right Partido Popular and broke into the national parliament in 2019, also becoming the country’s third political force following the leftist Partido Socialista Obero Español and the Partido Popular.
That same year it also broke into its first regional government, a tripartite formation in the southern region of Andalucia. Snap regional elections in 2022, though, were both affirming and disappointing for the party.
In the north-central region of Castile-Leon, the party garnered enough votes to get into the local government in a coalition with its rival, the Partido Popular. Just months later, it had hoped for a similar result in Andalucia, but the results of that election were disappointing.
VOX did increase its overall votes and gained one more seat in the local parliament, but the Partido Popular won a super majority that relegated the newer party back to the familiar position of vociferous opposition.
Part of the reason for the disappointing results, as European Conservative writer Carlos Perona Calvete analysed, was the delivery of the message:
“The campaign was also marred by a certain theatrical character, including the use of folkloric dresses and [regional presidential candidate Macarena] Olona’s overly dramatic tone during the first debate, which Andalusians clearly did not take to.
Olona also needed to be flanked by more high-profile people and low-profile experts. VOX needs to recruit more and better—it needs to be able to present projects that deliver on its program in a convincing way, articulated by people trained in the relevant fields. There are likely voters who simply don’t see VOX as a party able to implement its policies.
The above gave the campaign an air of faux-radicalism.”
Now the party plans to change that.
The Andalusian elections were considered a testing ground for how Spanish politics and the electorate are trending. The country heads into general elections in 2023 at a moment when the political cycle is swinging right. As in Andalucia, VOX may not be able to benefit from this shift.
According to the latest Target Point poll taken for El Debate on July 11, VOX had lost three and a half percentage points of the vote nationally compared to April, potentially falling from the 73-77 deputies predicted for national elections in April 2022 to 54-56 deputies.
El Debate reports that VOX faces competition on various fronts to capture the votes of those disaffected by the politics of the previous four years. One challenge is from those who have already defected from its ranks to form competing platforms, such as TuPatria and Libre y Juntos por España, which are also preparing for regional and municipal elections. The other challenge is the Partido Popular, which, as in Andalucía has been gaining steam since it replaced the more confrontational young, former president Pablo Casado with the calm façade of Alberto Núñez Feijóo, long-time regional president of the Galician regional government in the northwest.
The question for the third party, as Perona Calvete also pointed out is: can it convince Spaniards to vote for it while maintaining its specific difference within the political landscape?