Exactly one year ago, the Spanish far-right party Vox lost one of its most famous and charismatic figures.
Macarena Olona, former spokesperson for the party in parliament, resigned for “health reasons”.
She announced her departure shortly after Vox proposed her as a candidate in the Andalusian regional elections, although the result fell short of expectations with the party winning fewer seats than expected.
Not many Spaniards believed she was truly ill and attributed her resignation to internal disputes.
“After three and a half years devoted body and soul, the time has come for me to put an end to this phase,” he said in his farewell letter after leaving the party.
But, in a split that hit Vox and put him on high alert, Olona founded a new political party last June: Caminando Juntos (Walking Together).
Since then, Vox has tried hard to ignore his former ally.
“Let’s talk about serious things,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal replied to reporters when asked about Olona’s party.
His plan to consolidate the party over the course of the year changed abruptly when the socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, called a snap general election for July this year.
With little time to maneuver, Caminando Juntos timidly took off, but the big question is whether this breakaway party will threaten Vox’s unity and its success at the polls.
‘Thirst for revenge’
“Olona’s departure from Vox meant that the party lost its great female referent and gained a fierce and vengeful enemy,” political analyst and Rebellious Words chief executive Santiago Martínez told RockedBuzz via Euronews. -Vares.
Last February, during a television interview with the Spanish channel La Sexta, Olona stated that she was “ferociously hunted down” by Vox, “shown as an enemy” and that the party was seeking her political “death”.
However, since he recorded Caminando Juntos, silence has reigned in the Vox headquarters.
“When Vox realizes that there is something that could be dangerous, because it could erode its own supporters, the party ignores it and tries to make it as inaudible as possible,” says Miguel González, El País journalist who writes on Vox and author of the book Vox SA
“It’s just that [party leader] Abascal is doing with Olona. He knows that attacking her directly would recognize her, so he just ignores her.”
“But this shows that he’s probably concerned about the impact his party might have,” she adds.
Olona faces an uphill struggle at the moment, with some analysts suggesting this is a testament to the “chill” outside of Vox.
He has struggled against time to try to gather the necessary support that will allow his party to run as a candidate, since the socialist government announced general elections on May 29.
Will Olona’s popularity translate into votes?
Supported by some former Vox colleagues, Olona managed to meet the electoral requirements in ten Spanish provinces. However, Caminando Juntos will not be able to race in either Madrid or Barcelona.
“It will be very difficult for her to get a good result in this general election, but if her party survives, I wouldn’t underestimate what it could do in the medium term,” says González.
“It cannot be ruled out that it will be able to bring together a part of the Vox voters and another part of the electorate disillusioned with the other parties,” he adds.
The expert believes that, in recent years, both Spanish and European politics have been characterized by abrupt changes.
Spain could follow the trend of Italy, where the current premier, Giorgia Meloni, increased her results sixfold from 4.3% to 26% of the votes in the last general election, becoming the most voted force of the right-wing bloc.
While some are convinced that Olona’s popularity will eventually translate into votes, others question it.
“There is no doubt that it will be able to attract attention, but I don’t know if this will give it any chance of forming a government coalition. The right-wing movement in Spain is very united, so it will be very complicated for Olona to get votes there, I think his political action will be aimed at disenchanted voters rather than Vox voters,” says analyst Martínez-Vares.
A European trend
Olona’s constant political twists and turns, his brief disappearance after leaving Vox, and constant far-right party pressure could work against his new party.
“In politics, the electorate has the memory of a goldfish. As soon as politicians disappear from the spotlight, even for just two weeks, it seems like an eternity has passed,” says journalist González.
He points elsewhere in Europe, suggesting that Olona’s party could still consolidate itself in Spanish politics, despite the fact that a far-right party already exists.
“In Italy there are two far-right formations: ‘Lega’ and ‘Fratelli d’Italia’. In France we also find two: Marine Le Pen’s party, ‘Rassemblement national’, and Éric Zemmour’s party, ‘Reconquête “. I don’t exclude that in the medium to long term Spain too may have a second party”.
Her gender may also help Olona, with no Spanish right-wing political party currently led by a woman.
“In Europe there are far-right parties led by women, while in Spain the figure of Santiago Abascal is starting to become a bit too old-fashioned for a modern country. This could give Olona a chance and leave a void for her party ”, adds González.
RockedBuzz via Euronews contacted Vox and Caminando Juntos for comments.