The Madrid campaign, from bad to worse

2 min
Isabel Díaz Ayuso at a campaign event in the Madrid municipality of Tres Cantos.

The Madrid campaign is going from bad to worse. When it seemed that nothing could be worse than the death threats received by the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the director general of the Guardia Civil, María Gámez, and the candidate of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, this Monday it has been made public that the minister Reyes Maroto also received an envelope containing a knife with traces of blood. In this case it has been possible to identify the sender, who is a man with mental problems. It remains to be seen now if the Guardia Civil and the National Police are able to identify and arrest the senders of the three envelopes containing bullets, which were not detected until they reached the buildings where the threatened have their offices.

Even so, the security forces give credibility to the threat, which Vox has not done, insinuating that the whole thing is a set-up. This is the climate in which a campaign with dramatic touches is taking place, in which the Spanish left and right are engaged in a battle of high emotional intensity, to the point that some observers fear that the fracture will end up affecting coexistence in the street. In fact, the existence of these very threats is already a symptom that something is wrong. In this sense, we must denounce the false equidistance that some try to maintain between Vox and Podemos, as if they were two comparable realities. One can be very critical of the postulates of Podemos, but this party does not convey a discourse of hatred against minorities (be they migrant minors, feminists or Catalan independentists) as Vox does, nor does it base its campaign on lies and fake news.

The PP's campaign slogan itself, "Communism or freedom", already represents in itself an exaggeration and a misrepresentation. And Isabel Díaz Ayuso's insistence that what is at stake on 4-M is freedom and that the left is a threat to democracy is unacceptable. But it is this kind of discourse that dehumanises political adversaries (it already happened during the Catalan independence bid, by the way) and creates an atmosphere conducive to violence. Socialist MEP Javi López recalled the case of Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered in 2016 by a neo-Nazi because she was against Brexit. Politicians should be very careful with their speeches, and at the same time be very forceful in denouncing excesses. The silence and acquiescence of the PP with the tactics of Vox is the most alarming thing that is happening in Madrid these days.

Be that as it may, the Madrid campaign is sure to leave wounds. Far from the hedonistic paradise that Díaz Ayuso wants to sell, the Spanish capital is turning into a social and political powder keg, with an increasingly unbreathable climate between two trenches that inhabit parallel worlds. A government with a far-right presence will further aggravate the situation and polarise society. And this rarefied atmosphere always ends up affecting coexistence, with the danger that one day it could end in tragedy.