The attempt to assault on institutions in Brazil by the Bolsonaristas, as the followers of Bolsonaro did two years ago. Donald Trump in the US by not accepting his defeat at the polls, he has once again put the democratic system to the test. What happened in Washington in 2021 and in Brasilia in 2023, barely 24 months apart, is, at the very least, a warning to sailors for the rest of the democracies.
Also for the Europeans every time the presence and strength of the extreme right is becoming more and more evident. Spain is no stranger to these risks with Vox, a party twinned with the far-right populism of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, as a third force and with no sign of losing weight in the next electoral cycle that is just around the corner.
In recent years there have been several representatives of Vox who have stirred up the ghost of electoral fraud. The PP has also contributed to fertilizing this breeding ground for the question the legitimacy of the coalition government, formed by the PSOE and Unidas Podemos, in making certain decisions. And all this in a growing climate of political tension that does not stop, giving rise to a institutional clash unprecedented between the legislature and the judiciary.
And it is that, the decision of the Constitutional Court to prevent the vote in the Senate of a reform that affected the renewal of the guarantee court itself was the result of another institutional crisis prolonged for four years, as is the blockade of the PP to the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), the governing body of the judges.
With these wickers and as a result of the invasion of Congress, the Planalto Palace and the headquarters of the Supreme Court last Sunday in Brasilia, Public has contacted several political scientists to try to answer this important question: is there a real risk of the same thing happening in Spain as in Brazil or the US? In general terms, these experts reject this possibility. If it occurs, it would have other overtones, they add. Of course, they call to preserve democracy and strengthen confidence in their institutions.
Institutional delegitimization strategy
The political scientist Veronica Fumanal speaks of a phenomenon shared in both assaults: the electoral denialism. This process “does not begin with denying the results on election night, but with the previous campaign of defamation of the electoral system.” In this sense, he recalls that both Donal Trump and Jair Bolsonaro used part of their electoral campaign and their communication efforts “to make people think that either they won, or that there had been fraud.”
The president of the Association of Political Communication considers that, “fortunately and for the moment”, this type of message has not reached Spain. But she alerts that a strategy of delegitimization of the institutionsboth from the government and from Congress. And he brings up several examples: “We have heard representatives of the PP and Vox talk about ‘illegitimate government’, Isabel Díaz Ayuso [presidenta del PP madrileño y de la Comunidad de Madrid] has said that Spain is heading towards a dictatorship, or the PP has refused to sit down with the Government itself because a part of the coalition Executive, United We Can, is present [en el marco de las negociaciones para renovar el CGPJ]”. It is also worth noting the accusations of PP and Vox of “prevarication” leveled at the president of Congress, Meritxell Batet, the third authority of the State.
In a way, these narrative strategies, “which undermine the legitimacy of institutions, are a first step.” And, although “it does not mean that the steps continue further”, it is true that “the wear and discredit of the current institutions is something that should worry us all because, when people stop believing in the system, it is when the failures start to occur. And he adds: “Democracy is something that must be preserved and must be respected among all. For the electoral system to work, it is essential that the winner recognize himself as such, but that the loser also recognize himself as such.”
The hoax about the vote count in Spain
Your colleague Pablo Simon nor does he believe that there is a risk of the same thing happening in Spain as in Brazil or the US, or at least “not to the same magnitude”. The tenured professor of Political Science at the Carlos III University of Madrid does not doubt that “the conspiracy spaces follow the same manual”, that is, to challenge the electoral result.
Likewise, he puts on the table an example that has been given in Spain and that, in the face of the next electoral calls, “will be repeated”, as is the hoax that INDRA is the company that counts the results of the elections, that it is controlled by the Government and that fraud can occur at some point (ignoring that this company only uploads the results to an application and that the votes are counted by the members of the table, with auditors, so it is a public and transparent process).
“If the right does not win, surely they will try to make this run, but would it translate into actions that disturb the development of institutions in Spain? I think not,” adds Simón because, unlike what happens in Brazil In the United States, the administration of security in Spain is centralized and channeled through the Ministry of the Interior. “It would be difficult for public buildings to be broken into, as happened in Washington or Brasilia with the collusion of these bodies. The occupation of these venues would be very complicated in Spain, regardless of the fact that there were protests,” he believes.
In any case, it underlines the role of informal consensus reached in democracy. “These recent agreements imply that no actor, unlike what happened in Brazil or the US, even flirts with the idea of not abiding by the result. If this consensus is broken, from a criminal perspective, no action should be taken, but accepting it is corrosive to the functioning of democracy. That is where a minimum consensus must be reached among the democratic forces in order not to accept the deviation of any rule,” he summarizes.
Elements to consider
Aida Vizcaino, sociologist and political scientist, that a “very unlikely” assault on Spanish institutions, if it occurred, would not have the same aesthetic form as the one it had in both countries of the American continent, since she understands that “here we are more contained”. Although, the professor of Political Science at the University of Valencia, who she calls to “maintain and care for” democracy as the living entity that it is, highlights another issue.
“What is interesting is that, behind this movement, there is a rupture or a deep socioeconomic conflict that does not occur in European countries, or not at the same level.” In this sense, he adds that in Spain, the possibility of there being a violent mob of ultras followers would acquire “other elements” in case of experiencing it, since “electoral fraud is taken out for a walk by a few, but I would be concerned if it begins to be linked with political corruptionsince we have much more internalized this”.
Finally, it maintains that, at the current time of review linked to the rise of the extreme right, and triggered by the crisis of mistrust of those institutions “that had been saved in 2010”, such as the State security forces and the judiciary ( “The monarchy goes apart,” he says), we must leave space for the generation that has been socialized in democracy to explain what is meant by trust in the institutions and by democracy itself,” he ditch.