Spain’s radical right VOX party in their own words

VOX is the most impactful radical right political party in Spain for decades. It has been energetically rejecting the label of ‘far’, ‘extreme’ or ‘radical right’ since its birth in late 2013. Key representatives of VOX sidestep the topic in an implicit or explicit way (through the use of rhetoric or discursive strategies such as metaphors or periphrasis), defining their party not as an “extreme right party but a party of extreme need” a phrase that has become a recurrent motto in their political discourses.

The essence of Vox is summarized in their political programme, a document called100 medidas para la España viva (100 solutions for the living Spain) in which the party states straightforwardly the main points of its policy and ideological trends.

The text contains different subsections to cover every single aspect of the needed reform: 1. España, unidad y soberanía (Spain, unity and sovereignty) 2. Ley Electoral y Transparencia (electoral law and transparency) 3. Inmigración (immigration) 4. Defensa, seguridad y fronteras (defense, security and frontiers) 5. Economía y recursos (the economy and resources) 5. Salud (health) 6. Educación y cultura (education and culture) 7. Vida y familia (life and family) 8. Libertades y Justicia (freedoms and justice) 9. Europa e Internacional (Europe and the international).

Like other far-right populist parties, VOX is built upon two main ideas: a) the politics of fear and b) the arrogance of ignoranceas we will see below. Using Critical Discourse Analysis as our framework to study the political programme of VOX, we can grasp the ideology underlying their narrative since, asRuth Wodak has stated, when looking at the rhetoric of populist movements, we find that their propaganda always combines and integrates form and content.

This theoretical approach (CDA), though very heterogenous, deals withthe study of language to find “indications of manipulation, legitimation and the manufacture of consent”. Its three core concepts are ‘critique, power and ideology’.

Even more fine-grained analysis of the political programme of VOX using linguistics software reveals some interesting trends. Among the 50 most frequently used words in the whole document are España (Spain) (16 hits) together with nacional (nacional) (16 hits), estado (state) (11 hits) and ley (law) (11 hits). An examination of the semantic associations of the most frequent terms unveils the chief pillars upon which the discourse of VOX is constructed: the concept of nation España (Spain), the idea of ‘family’ and the notion of ‘security’.

The word España (Spain) – and its adjectival variations – is unsurprisingly the first in the list. VOX has put the name of the nation at the heart of its campaign, giving it the leading role in their mottos: España lo primero (Spain first) and La España viva (The living Spain). The far-right political force imagines Spain as a monolithic, unaffected and solid structure impervious to any potential threat, since the stardom of the emergent party arose out of the separatist conflict in Catalonia. The principles of centralization and sovereignty, which imply the removal of powers from other intermediate political and administrative structures, i.e., Autonomous Communities, is one of the main points in their political project. Its goal: to shape a country bound together by common symbols (flag, anthem and monarchy), language (Spanish) and the citizens’ uniformity of thought, beliefs and tastes. A nation that does not aim to embrace any type of cultural, religious or linguistic diversity (point 25 of their programme asks for the suppression of the teaching of the Islamic religion in state schools). Being or ‘becoming’ a Spaniard implies the total acceptance and evidence of these principles first and foremost (points 19 and 20).