What to do with Vox in Congress?


A week of provocations and insults have been enough to reactivate the debate. First of all, because we are not facing isolated outbursts but rather a deliberate strategy. That it is neither new nor is it exclusive to our vernacular ultra-right. Vox’s actions in Congress these weeks have already been tested by Trumpism in the United States, by Bolsonarismo in Brazil, and by some of its new emulators in Europe and America. It is, therefore, a strategy of tension with clear objectives. The most obvious, transferring hate speech and false news already used in rallies, social networks, and related media to Parliament, and thereby undermining the conditions for a minimally democratic debate.

As has already happened in other historical moments, the big question is how to deal with these actions. That debates take place in Congress that imply forceful discrepancies between different political forces is not only legitimate. It is essential in societies with diverse and often conflicting interests. But here we are talking about something else: to avoid that these discrepancies are expressed through vexatious, sexist, racist ways that harm the dignity of people and degrade representative institutions.

It is not something simple. In the parliamentary scuffle, all the groups tend to get into outbursts. The problem is when this stops being a one-off event to become a sustained pattern over time, which is what Vox has been doing since the beginning of this legislature and what it has decided to reactivate to recover the momentum lost after the elections in Andalusia. .

Neither Vox’s insults and disqualifications of Minister Irene Montero, nor its attacks on deputies defending feminist policies, nor its systematic breaches of the House Regulations, are new. And the worst thing is that in many cases they have enjoyed impunity. To this day, the presidency of the Chamber has not taken any measure to sanction the 52 Vox deputies who refuse to present their declaration of interests. Two Vox deputies who openly sabotaged an act within Congress condemning the criminalization of six young people from Zaragoza who participated in an anti-fascist demonstration were not sanctioned either. And what is especially serious, no clear reprimand was adopted against the Vox deputy who disobeyed Alfonso Gómez de Celis, when the latter, presiding over the session, expelled him from the chamber after calling the Socialist deputy Laura Berja a “witch”.

The problem is that it is no longer just a question of the growing impunity of the ultra-right, but rather that the presidency of Congress itself, in its eagerness to be firm “with each other”, ends up equating the aggressors and the attacked and actions that little they have to do with each other.

It is unacceptable, for example, that the presidency equally censures a Vox deputy who accuses others of exercising “ETA terrorism”, as well as someone who uses the expression “fascism” to describe the exaltation of Francoism or characters like Millan Astray. And it is that the first thing supposes the attribution of a serious crime included in the Penal Code. “Fascism”, on the other hand, is a historically dated political concept, like “communism”, “socialism” or “anarchism”, which a democratic parliament cannot hope to proscribe.

Nor is it acceptable to try, as has been done, to equate alleged institutional disrespect “committed by each other” without sufficient justification. Recently, for example, the deputy of the Galician Nationalist Bloc Néstor Rego sent a note to the Bureau questioning that the presidency forced him to withdraw a series of criticisms of the monarchical institution. His complaint was fully justified, since the Strasbourg Court itself has recalled that parliamentary criticism of the monarchy and the king himself are matters of public interest that the free expression of deputies protects.

After debating some of these issues at the Table, the president Meritxell Batet promised her members to apply the regulations rigorously to avoid these arbitrariness. But it is significant that the first case in which he did so was to call Irene Montero herself to order, who in response to the attacks suffered, reminded the Popular Party that campaigns like the ones they promoted in Galicia promoted what the UN itself calls ” rape culture. The impression, once again, was that Batet was trying to assert himself that “everyone is going too far here” so as not to make Vox uncomfortable or come into conflict with the Popular Party.

All of this is obviously dangerous, since a parliament that wants to be democratic and pluralistic should be able to firmly guarantee a basic principle: as much free expression as possible for its members and all the necessary restrictions when it comes to avoiding humiliation. sexist, xenophobic or other forms of defamation directed at groups in vulnerable situations.

It is not something impossible. There is the example of the former speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, who managed to firmly stop the macho bravado of Boris Johnson himself. There is also the role of the president of the Andalusian parliament, Jesús Aguirre, of the Popular Party, who did not hesitate to withdraw the word from a Vox deputy who insisted on slandering his opponents. And there are, likewise, cases like that of the deputy of the French ultra-right, Grégoire de Fournas, expelled from the National Assembly and sanctioned to receive half his salary for two months for snapping at a left-wing black deputy to return to Africa .

What Vox is trying to do in the Spanish Parliament to regain prominence cannot be normalized or naturalized. Because it is not something isolated. It is a strategy already defended by Nazi-leaning jurists such as Carl Schmitt, and by the Trumps and Bolsonaros of the day: erode parliamentarism and progressively replace it with a more authoritarian and concentrated form of government in the hands of some new Führer the caudillo.

The presidency of Congress cannot be condescending or neutral in the face of the reiterated and systematic attacks by the ultra-right. And neither does society. Today, more than ever, there is a need for pedagogy and social counterpowers, citizens, capable of keeping actors with public and private power at bay who will not limit themselves without that external pressure. It’s not easy. But it is the only way to prevent the radicalized right wing from slowly demolishing democratic spaces that have been hard won, which today must be expanded, but which under no circumstances can we afford to lose.


Source: elDiario.es – elDiario.es by www.eldiario.es.

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