The Act Of Vox In Vallecas, a Pattern Followed By Other Ultra Formations In Europe

“Vallecas is also ours”, shouted Santiago Abascal as he began his act in Vallecas in the face of the elections of the Community of Madrid. It is not the first time that one of its rallies organized in areas with little resemblance ends in riots and clashes due to the presence of counter-protesters, including some violent ones. It also happened in Vic in February (Barcelona) and in Sestao (Bizkaia) last year before the regional elections in both communities.

The three received many minutes of social gatherings, many articles and striking images – a photo of Abascal smoking a cigar in front of the protests or showing the stones thrown at him aloft. “When there are riots it is counterproductive for the left. That is what they seek: visibility and victimhood”, says Steven Forti, Italian historian and author of the book ‘Indignant Patriots’.

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“Achieving visibility by going to places where you know that there are probably going to be incidents and from there adopting a victimizing attitude is something quite common in the European radical right”, points out Guillermo Fernández Vázquez, an expert researcher on these movements and author of the book ‘ What to do with the extreme right in Europe: the case of the National Front ‘”.

Le Pen, for example, has organized rallies in northern Parisian neighborhoods on multiple occasions. “These types of acts generate counter-demonstrations and riots. With this they obtain media visibility and send the message that the intolerant are the leftists,” he says. “Vox does not innovate and has made it a common practice.”

“Abascal is not going to look to Vallecas for the vote of the Vallecanos, but rather he is going to generate visibility for the rest of Spain and seek the sympathy of the right when he sees those images,” he says. “Similarly, Marine Le Pen does not seek votes in the banlieues, in the population of immigrant origin or in the third generation French who are there, but rather seeks the vote of the French who are beyond, in the regions bordering the suburbs and where they do have a lot of vote, “he adds.

Although Marine Le Pen’s party has a lot of support among the popular classes, the researcher clarifies: “Normally this support is given in areas that are not particularly multicultural, but to provoke it goes to the multicultural neighborhood, where they do not vote for it. From the popular classes they vote for him where there is not so much immigration, but where there is a strong feeling of abandonment of the State “.

In the German capital, one of the most common shouts when there is an act of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is “The whole of Berlin hates the AfD.” Citizen response to extreme right-wing rallies or marches is common, as is extensive police deployment that prevents those participating in the protests from getting too close to the political act, including the security fences.

“Once I went to a demonstration against AfD and there were babies, mothers, children and all kinds of families w ith a festive and calm atmosphere. Because I think that in Germany what matters is that they see that we are more than them, not so much a confrontation face to face”. It is told by Noelia González, a Spaniard who has lived in Berlin for 7 years. In the capital it is common to find bars where they put up signs with the phrase “this is no place for Nazis.”

“In Berlin they have little electoral potential and that is why there are more acts against the extreme right. But the AfD provocation is fueled more by television than by street confrontations, which they do not usually practice,” says Daphne Büllesbach, activist of the European Alternatives citizen movement. “The typical AfD provocation is through its deputies, who sometimes invite people who take videos and photos of opposing deputies to circulate them on social networks and channels such as YouTube or Telegram.”

Büllesbach believes that “AfD wants to show that they are ordinary citizens and that is why they practice violence more dialectical than physical, because that image is more associated with neo-Nazis, with whom they say they have nothing to do”.

However, the party has lost media visibility in recent months. “The inauguration of Thomas Kemmerich with the CDU and AfD votes in Thuringia is striking because it sets a precedent that is quickly cut by Merkel, saying that it should never have happened. I think that there, and also with the pandemic, the presence begins to decline. AfD media “, says the political scientist Franco Delle Donne, director of the Epidemic Ultra podcast.

“It is very difficult to blame someone for the existence of a virus and, although it was thought that they could capitalize on citizen discontent over the management of the pandemic, this has not been the case,” he adds.

The Italian historian Forti says that in Italy, during the election campaign of the January 2020 elections in the Emilia Romagna region, traditionally considered a left-wing area, the ultra leader organized several acts of “provocation”. “The strategy was clear: seek noise, media visibility and claim that the left is undemocratic.”

During that campaign, Salvini appeared in the neighborhood of El Pilastro (Bologna), a humble area. It was night and, followed by the cameras, he went to the home of an immigrant to ask him if he was dealing drugs. “That was counterproductive for him because he crossed several red lines,” says Forti.

On many occasions, Salvini’s acts were accompanied by counter-demonstrations organized by the collective known as Las Sardinas. The massive concentrations of this group managed to overshadow the events called by Salvini in the media.

Jorge Buxadé, Vox MEP, sent a letter to his colleagues in the chamber on Thursday in which he asks parliamentarians to denounce what happened in Vallecas “or this Parliament will be an accomplice and as responsible as the violent ones.”

“At Vox we have lost count of the atrocities, savagery and outrages that have been said and done against us. Also of the times we have tried, without success, for this Parliament to speak out against the extreme left violence and antifa that threatens our democracy, which is growing and is creating a very dangerous climate of hatred in Spain unprecedented since the Civil War, “he denounced.

Fernández Vázquez concludes by wondering if there is a similar strategy on the left. “Just as the extreme right knows that going to certain sites is a safe button to generate visibility and victimhood, if there is something analogous on the left. And if it exists, if it uses it.”

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