“A few days ago I warned that the real political dispute in Spain today is not between the left and right, it is between the rupturist and reformist blocs, between populists and democrats, between radicals and centrists.”

These were the words of the leader of the Partido Popular, Pablo Casado, in calling on his party to occupy the centre of Spain’s politics and to give it new life, as the centre is where “the vast majority of Spanish society is located”. Casado, while making the radical left one of his targets, has more explicitly attacked the radical right, i.e. Vox. He did so by refusing to back the Vox-led motion of no confidence in Pedro Sánchez and the Spanish government and he has now observed that there are “political forces” who justify vandalism in the form of protests against mobility restrictions by seeking “a Cainite polarisation of the whole of Spain”.

Although Casado is clearly intent on looking to obtain political advantage for the PP, his words do carry additional power at a time when populism and extremism threaten not just Spain but also other countries.

The pandemic and its disastrous economic consequences are fertile territory for fomenting further division. Inflammatory statements and a breakdown in the civility of discourse only serve to advance this. His centrist advocacy, while it might be felt to be opportune, is nevertheless important in the context of current circumstances. It is up to other political forces whether they share this advocacy.