A far-right party has won seats in a Spanish regional election for the first time in decades.
The Vox party took 12 parliamentary seats in Andalusia on Sunday, beating expectations that it would win five.
In some respects Vox resembles other parties on Europe’s far-right. Its success has been at least partly due to its call for tougher immigration controls. That strategy has worked particularly well in Andalusia, the region that has received the vast majority of the nearly 53,000 migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean to Spain so far this year.
But there is another, uniquely Spanish, factor behind the party’s recent rise – the recent attempt by Catalonia to become independent.
Although all mainstream parties take a unionist stance, Vox has gone further.
It has called for much tougher action against the independence movement and has even taken legal action against Catalan leaders
Who are Vox?
Founded in 2014, the party has struggled to make an impact on Spain’s political landscape.
Vox has been derided as far-right and populist, anti-immigrant and anti-Islam but its leader Santiago Abascal believes its recent surge of support is because it is “in step with what millions of Spaniards think”.
Its leaders reject the far-right label, insisting it is a party of “extreme necessity” rather than extremism. Its overall support for Spain’s membership of the EU, it says, differentiates it from many populist and far-right movements across Europe.
The party proposes to “make Spain great again” and critics have described its ideology as a nationalist throwback to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.
And of course:
By the way:
Further analysis here:
Vox – a Falangist split from the PP in 2013 – won 12 seats, 11 per cent of the vote, up from 0.5 per cent in 2014.
How did Vox do it? The two obvious sparks for the far-right’s rise have been the increasing number of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East coming to Spain and the Catalan independence crisis.
50,000 migrants have arrived in Andalucía this year with Spain, rather than Italy or Greece, now the main destination for refugees travelling to Europe. Central to the pitch of Santiago Abascal, leader of Vox, is tough talk on deporting refugees and virulent opposition to “extreme Islam”.
The 2017 Catalan crisis led to the first Francoist protest movement in Spain since the dictator’s death, with PP and PSOE both accused of not being tough enough on the independence movement, despite the jailing of elected Catalan ministers and suppression of the independence referendum.…
Election analysis of the Andalucían election by Europe Elects found Vox did “stronger in urban municipalities with high average age, high average income, high average education”. This rings true with the general analysis of the Vox base being generally older, upper middle class Francoists, fed up with the PP. But it has also won some votes from the new anti-establishment forces of Podemos and Ciudadanos.
What emerges is a fractured picture in Spanish politics, with strong pro-independence forces (generally progressive in nature) in the Basque Country and Catalonia, two Spanish parties of the left and three of the right and far-right. Spanish politics, previously a stable if corrupt entity in the post-Franco era, has exploded all over the political map.
And as a final note: it may be time for those on the Spanish left who saw Catalonia as the nationalist threat to have a re-think. Spanish nationalism is where the real danger for progressives lies.
You may recall that we supported Catalan secession from the beginning, not least as the only way to take Spain off the trajectory that would otherwise lead sooner or later to far-right ascent:
At the time many people did not understand the significance of this, and as usual it is now too late. As I keep saying, it is useless for us to be able to see several steps ahead if no one believes us:
Cassandra was cursed to utter prophecies that were true but that no one believed. … Her cursed gift from Apollo became a source of endless pain and frustration to Cassandra. She was seen as a liar and a madwoman by her family and by the Trojan people.