Extremo centro o la anomalía popular-populista en la política española. Articles uri icon

publication date

  • June 2021

start page

  • 133

end page

  • 145


  • 11

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0394-1248

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1972-5477


  • This paper challenges the conventional image of the moderate centre besieged by the populist forces, from the far right and left. Taking stock from a single study case —the last elections for the Autonomous Community of Madrid, in 2021— I recover the populist genealogy of the Spanish Popular party pointing out that the populist component, staged in a strongly parochial dressing, has proven to be crucial in the discourse and the public image of the winning candidate. I also underscore that one of the identifying features in the popular right is the programmatic absence of any kind of cordon sanitaire with the far right. The Spanish Popular party, in its populistic shape, and the new radical right represented by Vox, compete in the same electoral field. They are complementary forces. Thus, I argue that the Popular party"s victory in these elections takes the moderate Spanish right to a stance that can be described as «extreme centre». To justify the use of such a disturbing and maybe inconsistent category, I cannot rely on empirical data. Instead, I chose a few significant speeches given by the popular candidate to the elections, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, by her colleague José Luis Martínez-Almeida, Major of Madrid, and by the leader of the Spanish Popular party, Pablo Casado, to illustrate how the wordings, the messages, the attitudes, and the entire performative mise-en-scene of the popular representatives match the standards features of populist discourses. They declare to be positioned at the «centre» of the political spectrum, but in their interpretations of what the «centre» means, they blur the distinction between traditional moderate parties and the forces that come from the far right, both old and new. And this is an anomalous situation in which the populist impulses continue to gain momentum.


  • Philosophy
  • Politics