Can a meme win a candidate an election?

“Más sabe el perro sanxe por perro que por sanxe.” This Instagram post by Manu Lardín Hoyos on 30 May 2023 put a new spin on the Spanish idiom “más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo,” which literally means “if the Devil knows so much, it’s more because he’s old than because he’s the Devil” but can be translated loosely as “the older you get, the wiser you are” or “there’s no substitute for experience.” In Manu’s rendering, the subject was Spanish Prime Ministewr Pedro Sánchez or rather “perro sanxe”, a nickname originally used by opponents of the Prime Minister that plays on the word for “dog” in Spanish (“perro”) and a colloquial pronunciation of the surname Sánchez. No one knows Manu, but everyone’s seen and shared his post, including Pedro Sánchez himself. Darwin & Verne spoke with this 21-year-old translator from Córdoba, who may go down in history for having “won” an election with a simple meme.

“The most fateful 30 seconds of my life”, says Manu. That’s exactly how long it took to create his meme with the WhatsApp editor. He took an image of a dog he’d saved to his phone and superimposed a phrase that ended up becoming *the* phrase of the 23 July election campaign. All in the style of wolf memes that have been popular on social media for a while.

Why did he choose that idiom in particular? “A few days earlier I had heard a friend from Malaga province say ‘más sabe un diablo por alahurino que por diablo“, playing on the name of the town my friend is from: “if the Devil knows so much, it’s more because he’s from Alhaurín than because he’s the Devil.” And there you have it: “más sabe el perro sanxe por perro que por sanxe.” He posted it on his Instagram meme account, @mem.enuel, where he has 365 followers, and so far, it’s received 316 likes.

But that doesn’t do justice to his creation, posted on 30 May on the heels of the regional and local elections in Spain, and which went viral on millions of accounts during the general election campaign. None of them credited the creator of the image: Manuel Lardín Hoyos, born in 2001 in Córdoba, a translation student at the Open University of Catalonia and parkourist.

“If I’d put a watermark on it, I’d be famous now”, Manu tells us. “I wasn’t expecting it to have this impact, or that even Pedro Sánchez would mention it on the ‘La pija y la Quinqui’ podcast. I ran the PSOE’s campaign,” he says, proud of the success of his image. He admits he doesn’t vote for the PSOE, which he considers too centrist for his political views. And he’d love an invitation to the Moncloa, the PM’s official residence, to meet Sánchez and look at the image together. Will he dedicate it to the PM in person?

Manu’s been posting memes on Instagram for approximately a year now. The ideas might come to him when he’s watching a series or a TV programme or playing sport. An image pops into his head and he associates it with a joke. It’s that easy. And that fun. His goal wasn’t to get rich with these creations, but he does admit that he has to find some way to make some financial profit from his Perro Sanxe.

Brands, take note. A genius is born.


Más sabe el perro sanxe por perro que por sanxe