23 APR 2021 – 22:40 CEST
Candidates for the Community of Madrid Pablo Iglesias, of Unidas Podemos, and Rocío Monasterio, of Vox, before the electoral debate at the headquarters of SER in Madrid. ANDREA COMAS
The campaign for the elections of the Community of Madrid to be held on 4 May took a worrying turn on Friday, which means that all alarm bells are ringing, given the risk of a serious deterioration of the democratic framework: the threat of the spread of hate speech and hostility without reason within Spanish society. The letters with bullets that the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska; the Director General of the Civil Guard, María Gámez; and the former Vice-President of the Government and candidate in Madrid for Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, have received, with their unacceptable death threats in the most despicable terrorist tradition, deserve a firm, forceful and urgent condemnation from all political forces across the parliamentary spectrum. There is no room for half-measures or vagueness: in the face of such gestures, there can only be unanimous and explicit rejection. There is no place in a democracy for tolerating such threats. It is up to the police forces to track down as soon as possible those responsible for an initiative that has the worst resonance in the recent history of this country.
These letters served as a prologue to the debate organised by Cadena SER, which was attended by all the candidates except Isabel Díaz Ayuso, of the Partido Popular; and what had no more to offer than a resounding rejection by all the participants turned the event into a pitiful brouhaha when the head of the Vox ticket, Rocío Monasterio, trivialised the threats, even questioning their veracity. The threats contained such precise terms as “your wife, your parents and you are sentenced to capital punishment, your time is running out [sic]”, in Iglesias’s case, which require a concrete position and not the generic condemnation of violence in which Monasterio tried to take refuge while inviting the candidate, with uncalled-for arrogance, to get the hell out of there.
Such positions are directly unacceptable in any democratic framework. The Podemos leader opted to leave the debate, despite attempts to prevent him from doing so by Àngels Barceló, the moderator, who made a laudable effort to defend to the end the trait that best defines a solid democracy: tackling problems from the height of firm, clear and calm words.
Provocations such as Monasterio’s shameful action call on a democratic society to seek the exact point of a response that firmly and unitedly rejects insidiousness while, at the same time, encapsulating hatred and avoiding giving it prominence and the ability to spread. At this point, Iglesias opted to leave the table. The PSOE and Más Madrid candidates subsequently followed in his footsteps. The whole episode, propitiated by Vox, produced a deterioration of an already poisoned climate, in which a tweet from the PP account in Madrid closed the episode with “Iglesias, close on your way out”. Fortunately, it was withdrawn, and the party’s leaders pronounced words of condemnation. If only they would also assume that Vox is a party unworthy of holding government functions.
Words and gestures do not come for free, and hate speeches are subtly permeating: until one day they explode – the assault on Parliament in Washington is a recent example – and their consequences are devastating. In Spain, the political climate is unbreathable. No one is more responsible for this poisoning than Vox, but in varying degrees others have also contributed to exacerbating tensions.