The leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal (left) and the parliamentary spokesman, Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, during the last day of debate and voting on the budgets in the plenary session of Congress, on November 24, 2022. Chema Moya ( EFE)
A former leader of Vox affirms: “I no longer recognize myself in the party that I founded.” A few months after a decade has elapsed since its creation, in December 2013, the president of the ultra party, Santiago Abascal, is one of the few members of the founding team who continues to lead the formation. The last to slam the door was the spokesman for the parliamentary group, Iván Espinosa de los Monteros.
At noon this Tuesday, Espinosa de los Monteros appeared in the press room of Congress to announce that he was resigning as a member of the leadership of his party and of the Permanent Deputation of the Lower House and that he would not take the act of deputy that he won in the elections of the past 23-J. The Vox exporter assured that he made his decision “for personal and family reasons”, since his parents “are not so young anymore” and his children “are not that old”. Although one of the journalists was fired, he refused to answer his questions and explain why he was giving up a seat that he renewed just 15 days ago.
According to sources close to him, Espinosa de los Monteros had made his decision weeks ago, but he allowed the elections to pass so as not to harm a party that he helped found and of which he assured this Tuesday that he will continue to be a grassroots militant. The trigger for the break with his boss and friend Santiago Abascal, with whom he met on Monday to announce his resignation, came on June 18, when Abascal’s chief of staff, Enrique Cabanas, telephoned the deputies Víctor Sánchez del Real and Rubén Manso, among others, to inform them that they fell off the lists that would be made official the next day. Both the former —designer of some of Abascal’s most successful campaigns— and the latter —the party’s economic guru— were early Vox leaders and were among Espinosa’s closest collaborators, whom no one had counted on to draw up the lists from which his parliamentary group would have to emerge.
The promoters of the candidacies had been the Vice President of Political Action, Jorge Buxadé, and his right-hand man, Ignacio Hoces. The first, a member of Opus Dei like the general secretary of the party, Ignacio Garriga, heads the Catholic fundamentalist sector, ultra-conservative in moral terms and economic protectionist, which has been cornering and laminating the ultra-liberals, followers of the postulates of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, who under the Bush administration would become known as the neocon. While the former identify with the positions of the Hungarian and Polish governments, the latter are closer to the British Conservative (Tory) party.
Little by little, the leaders of Vox who do not comply with the instructions of the apparatus controlled by Buxadé have been excluded or ostracized. This is the case of the MEP Mazaly Aguilar, another of the historical leaders of the party who, despite being vice-president of the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament, the most important international position that Vox has, has been deleted from the party’s social networks as if I do not exist.
Vox’s vice president for Political Action, Jorge Buxadé (left), and the spokesman for the Parliamentary Group in the Congress of Deputies, Iván Espinosa, upon arrival at the presentation of Vox’s economic program for the 23J general elections, on 7 July in Madrid.A. Perez Meca (Europa Press)
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Sources from the formation stress that the interest in eclipsing the representatives of this sector reached the point of absurdity when, in the presentation of the party’s economic program, last July, Espinosa de los Monteros was not allowed to appear alone, but rather had to. accompanied by Buxadé. While the former has a degree in Economics and Business Administration and a Master’s in Business Management in the US, the latter is a state attorney and lacks economic training.
Months before, according to different sources from the party, the apparatus already tried to remove Rocío Monasterio, wife of Espinosa de los Monteros, from Vox’s candidacy for the regional elections on May 28 in the Community of Madrid. She was first offered a position on the list for the European Parliament elections in June of next year, which she refused citing family reasons; and later, a position in the Disenso foundation, which she did not refuse as long as it was compatible with her position in the Madrid Assembly, add the same sources. Attempts to get her out of regional politics failed and Monasterio paid for it with the lack of support for her candidacy: Abascal only held one rally in the Community of Madrid during the entire campaign and it was in the town of Chinchón, with 5,600 inhabitants.
During the generals campaign, Espinosa de los Monteros had a secondary role, although he turned to animating the final rally in Plaza Colón to demonstrate, according to those who know him, that he fulfills his commitments. On the other hand, Buxadé monopolized the leading role, despite the fact that he was not a candidate. The meeting of the National Executive Committee (CEN) that was held after the elections was “particularly stormy”, according to Vox sources, since several members of the leadership demanded responsibilities for the way in which a campaign that led to the loss of 19 of his 52 seats, but Abascal cut short any self-criticism. The director of that campaign, although it was never publicly reported, was Buxadé.
The seat that Espinosa leaves vacant corresponds to Juan Luis Steegmann, the doctor who confronted the then Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, for the management of the pandemic and who was harassed by the most fanatical sectors of Vox for his defense of vaccines . It is not certain, however, warn the sources consulted, that Steegmann will accept the seat, since he has been very critical of the management of the Buxadé team.
Regarding the replacement of Espinosa de los Monteros as spokesperson, various sources point to Ignacio Hoces, despite his lack of parliamentary experience (his only role in Congress has been that of political commissioner of the parliamentary group in the last legislature from his position as adviser). What is certain, they add, is that he will be the strong man of the group, as Buxadé’s most direct collaborator.
In conversation with EL PAÍS, Sánchez del Real, the deputy who was removed from the lists to place Hoces, assures that, with the departure of Espinosa de los Monteros, “one of the best parliamentarians the Cortes have ever had is lost.” “Apart from the personal reasons that he has put forward,” he warns, “the time has come to reflect on what is the best way to resume some ideas from the founding manifesto of Vox that, with the departure of some people, some in a way voluntarily and others without knowing the reason, are no longer represented”.
Even more forceful, Rubén Manso affirms, in an article published in Vozpópuli, that “Vox has no future.” And he adds: “This party that many made a caricature of which, like all caricatures was unfair and hyperbolic, has decided to resemble it.”
Even the former general secretary of the party, Javier Ortega Smith, ideologically far removed from Espinosa de los Monteros, has taken it for granted that his resignation is not due to personal reasons in a tweet in which he states: “Dear colleague and friend, I am very sorry for your resignation. and much more the reasons that provoke it”.
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