Prosecutors in Spain are investigating the populist Vox party, led by Santiago Abascal, over an electoral poster campaign which compares the government’s monthly spending on migrant minors to monthly spending on elderly Spaniards receiving pensions.
Launched just ahead of the regional elections in Madrid, which are set to take place on May 4, the poster reads: “A migrant minor, €4,700 per month, your grandmother, €426 pension per month”, and shows an elderly woman on one side and a youth wearing a hood and a mask on the other side.
— Padel ?? #SanchezDimision #SoloQuedaVOX (@PadelAntonio) April 20, 2021
Following complaints submitted by politicians from the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the far-left Unidas Podemos (United We Can), the Madrid Prosecutor’s Office announced last Wednesday that it had opened an investigation into Vox for alleged “hate crimes”, El País reports.
In a press conference, far-left Social Affairs Minister Ione Belarra accused the populist party’s poster campaign of attacking the “the most vulnerable children” in Spain and “criminalizing the boys and girls who migrate alone”.
UNICEF, Save the Children, and Caritas also condemned the billboards in a joint statement released last week, claiming that they were hate speech and misinformation.
Some regional authorities have dispute the accuracy of the figures shown on the posters. One source who works at Madrid’s Department of Social Policy and Family Affairs claimed: “There is no office that gives minors arriving without a guardian €4,700 to spend on whatever they want.”
However, a report by the Spanish broadcaster RTVE mentions that figures presented by Vox were taken from a study which shows the total cost of migrant minors that included housing and other living expenses.
In France, similar figures to the ones shown on Vox’s billboards have been observed. In 2019, a report from Agence France-Press (AFP) noted that each of the approximately 41,000 underage migrants — 95 percent of which are male — cost the French government around €50,000 euros each year, or around €4,166 per month.
Vox’s controversial poster campaign comes just weeks after their leadership and supporters were attacked by far-left extremists during a rally in the Vallecas area of Madrid. Violent leftists were filmed hurling rocks and other objects at the party’s leader, Santiago Abascal, as well as his supporters, as he gave a speech in the Spanish capital. The attack resulted in the injuries of some 35 people, including 21 police officers.
The Madrilenian region is currently governed by Isabel Díaz-Ayuso of the center-right People’s Party (PP), who called for an early election following a political dispute between her party and centrist-liberal party Ciudadanos. At present, polls show the People’s Party in first place, but also lacking a clear 50 percent majority. This means Vox, which is polling at about 10 percent, could play a crucial kingmaker role in the formation of a new regional government.
Unsurprisingly, left-wing parties have pressured Díaz-Ayuso to reject any alliance with Vox.
Vox, following the national elections in 2019, where it secured 3.6 million votes (18 percent) and 52 seats in the Congress of Deputies, became the third-largest party in the country.