VOX, a right-wing populism party in Spain, is renowned for its denial of global warming. Experts believe this is the reason for its political success as the party was established in 2013 with the aim of protecting the nation’s social harmony from the potential danger of Catalan secessionists and is the third most populous party in the Spanish government. Nevertheless, a closer examination of the evolution of VOX’s environmental issues agenda paints a more nuanced and alarming image.
Over the majority of its brief existence, VOX has distorted the seriousness of the harm posed by climate change and downplayed its risks. The party frequently portrays rising temperatures only as a conspiracy and the green movement as an international scheme opposing the ideals of sovereign rights and development. The argument Francisco José Contreras gave for criticizing Spain’s inaugural legislation addressing climate change perfectly captures the party’s contemptuous stance on the subject. This past April, during a legislative debate, Contreras stated that the cases of rising temperatures will “decrease casualties associated with cold conditions,” in which it might not be such a negative outcome after all.
VOX has infrequently disputed environmental science in general. More frequently than not, VOX’s anti-climate change discourse has been focused on ecological “elites,” whom it criticizes for using scientific knowledge to forgo political debate and pass laws that are contrary to the concerns of the common people. However, VOX’s agenda to make these claims through the media is further distortion of political views, causing more polarization amongst the common public. The primary concern, according to VOX chairman Santiago Abscal, isn’t the “proof” of global warming, as the group recognizes, but rather the “authoritarian” inclination to subject environmental policy to the demands of the scientific research groups in Spain. He stated that the worry” was the emergence of a “climatological theology” that people were not permitted to dissent with.
VOX’s viewpoint of climate change offered new goals to improve environmental issues, however the party continued to undermine the best interests of the people. A case of this problem can be identified during the speech made by Abascal during the unsuccessful resolution in support of the Spanish congress in November 2020. He criticized the arrogance of ecological elites who preach about global warming but travel to global gatherings through their personally owned private aircrafts before outlining VOX’s response to the state’s career threatening climate policies. The establishment of a national “energy autocracy” and the redevelopment of Spain in the direction of a sustainable future were two important recommendations in VOX’s progressive agenda, which Abascal aptly dubbed “real conservation.” He predicted that these initiatives should usher a “cleaner Spain, pure and affluent, modernized and in balance with nature.” While VOX proposed new ideas to enact a more sustainable future for Spain, they made no real efforts to do so in which the true motivation of their agenda was to solely shift political support in their favor of the far right. The strategy to utilize an ongoing issue within the nation to create more polarization amongst the people shows a great threat to democratic governance and a shift toward populist ideals.
Together with its allies inside the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ERC) in the European Parliament, VOX increased measures to enhance its climate policy over the previous few months. Among the key subjects of the ERC conference in Madrid in June was the creation of a global warming action substitute plan. Using the phrase “one of the primary problems confronting the ERC group in the future decades” helped Abascal succinctly express the significance of this mission. Nonetheless, by placing the conservation of the “national resources” at the center of the party’s “nationalistic” response to environmental changes, it marks contradiction to the notion that right-wing populist organizations downplay the truth of rising temperatures.
Overall, the green objective of Spain’s populist Right party has recently undergone changes that are reflected in VOX’s transition from opposition based to conservatism. A growing proportion of populist movements defend “environmental preservation” while criticizing measures aimed at sustainable practices, though they have yet to enact real change initiatives to solve the ongoing issue. Due to the divide of the Spanish public opposing global governance programs and those who support sustainable practices, VOX’s agenda has radicalized support of the far right in which further divide amongst the people has grown, ultimately creating a more polarized state straying away from democratic principles.