A well-dressed young man, wearing a gray Scalpers sweater, gets up on stage, grabs a microphone and shouts: “I invite you to drink!” It’s seven in the evening, but the mood is high in a central Madrid nightclub. There are a few minutes left before the vice president of Castilla y León, Juan García Gallardo, who has stayed to have some beers with the young people of Vox in Madrid, enters the scene. When a guy of about 35 appears down the long corridor of the disco, he raises his voice over the applause and tells his girl: “It’s amazing, Laura. It’s like us.”
Ramón Tamames, from founder of the United Left to Vox candidate
In an exercise similar to that of Santiago Abascal, who appears in Congress only when he has to ask the President of the Government, the Cañas por España initiative, without much activity since 2019, has coincidentally resurfaced a few months after the regional and municipal elections in May . The plan to reactivate the youth of the party has coincided with the announcement that the next vote of no confidence in the far-right party will be led by the octogenarian ex-communist Ramón Tamames. “Let’s hope he doesn’t have a heart attack sooner,” someone commented worriedly at the entrance.
García Gallardo is, indeed, like Laura’s companion: a sweater with elbow patches under a sleeveless puffer jacket, a long beard and a raised chin. While he applauds, the young Vox leader grabs the microphone and orders a beer, so as not to bother the host. To begin, he tells some childhood anecdotes and leaves a promising sentence: “Unlike others, who have traumatic childhoods, mine was normal.” Applause from the public.
Those attending the meeting are few, around fifty, the majority affiliated or sympathetic to the far-right party. Two people exchange their plans at the local bar: “Tomorrow we have a party table in Chamberí.” A girl interrupts them and one of them introduces her: “Here we have the greatest anti-muzzle activist.” They are presumably referring to anti-mask activism. “Order a beer, right? I see you turned off”, says a boy to another group that passes by. A few meters away, a boy hands out some green tickets: “Are you Juan’s friends? Perfect, ask for what you want at the back bar”.
All this happens while García Gallardo tries to make himself heard among the public. One of the organizers asks him to get a little closer to the microphone, because there is a growing murmur. He first tells of his beginnings in politics: “I was mayor of a corridor in the CEU. Before, I was a delegate at the university. This helped me to know how to manage teams”. He recounts that when he met with Abascal, he told him that he had never lost an election. “Abascal didn’t know anything about me,” he admits. The boy who accompanies Laura laughs out loud, he is one of the first to intervene to ask, after Gallardo’s story about his beginnings in politics.
“There are those who think that in Vox there is a more liberal current and another more national-populist. Which one do you identify with?” García-Gallardo says that neither left nor right: “I like Jorge Buxadé’s style, but also that of Iván Espinosa de los Monteros.” And then he explains that he, during the electoral campaign after which the extreme right achieved real power in a democracy for the first time, did what he was told.
Although some questions are agreed upon and are uttered by some girls who have sat in the front row, in the only seats in the room, some spontaneous cheer up. And the ghost that haunts the game comes out: “What do you think of the decision to call a motion of no confidence with Tamames?” García-Gallardo begins with a Latinism: “Intelligence comes from inteligere, which means to read between the lines.”
The Vox leader reads in the public’s question, or perhaps in the shaky pronunciation, that there is some concern. “I understand that this decision has generated some doubts in the party, and that is how some of you have sent it to me”, acknowledges Gallardo, who immediately activates the argument and ditch: “It is a brilliant maneuver. The motion is a perfect tool that will help us come out stronger”. And, furthermore, he praises the candidate “He has some of the best economic treatises in Spain,” he says about the professor, although he does not specify whether he wrote the best ones during his time in the Communist Party or already entered the new century.
To finish rounding off the argument, García Gallardo expands on the virtues of Tamames. He says that he is one of the only fathers of the Constitution that remain alive, although he admits that he does not know this very well, which is what he knows by hearsay, and asks to return to the spirit of harmony. And then, without really knowing how, he admits: “It seems that we are a bit of a face and perhaps they are right.” An attendee, wearing a ‘Fachers’ brand T-shirt, applauds euphorically.
The last question is addressed to the youth. “What would you say to young people with the situation we are experiencing?” García Gallardo, 31, perhaps thinks of him when he asks, almost to himself: “What situation are youth experiencing?” And then he reasons that maybe we’re not so bad. “We have a more than correct healthcare and education,” he says in a social democratic tone and goes further, dangerously approaching the revolutionary discourse: “I think of my grandparents, who had a very tough situation, of poverty.” A few minutes later, he recoils: “I don’t like having the left next to me, but neither do the federicos and to the Anne Rosas”.
The moderator calls for a round of applause, and everyone crowds around the vice president for a photo. Someone asks for the flag of Spain. Social Security and Fondo Flamenco songs are playing. At Vox, the music played by young people is also out of date. On the way out, a group of friends exchange conclusions. “I’m so little since I don’t know half of the things he says, but I’m a partisan [sic] that those who come, work”.