Nigel Jones

Can Vox’s rainbow flag campaign help it to triumph in the Spanish election?

Vox party leader Santiago Abascal (Credit: Getty images)

Cultural issues, or ‘Woke Wars’, have surfaced to inflame an already tense general election held in the scorching temperatures of a Spanish summer. Spain’s third largest party – the hard-right populist Vox – is fuelling a backlash among Spaniards against town halls flying LBGT flags. Vox has insisted that the symbol of the LGBT movement be removed from the regional authority office in the Balearic Islands. A new socialist law targeting male domestic violence is another central plank in the party’s campaign. Vox, which is led by Santiago Abascal, argues that the law discriminates against men and should be amended to cover all domestic violence without specifying the sex of offenders. But will these battles be enough to win them power, or might they come to backfire?

The snap poll in Spain on 23 July was called by Pedro Sanchez, the socialist prime minister, after his ruling PSOE party suffered huge losses in local elections in May, crippling its legislative programme. The timing of the election has caused widespread anger among Spaniards who bitterly resent being summoned back from their holidays to vote or act as tellers at polling stations. Many darkly suspect that Sanchez deliberately timed the poll to hit conservative middle-class voters who are more likely to be away from their homes on vacation than working class left-wingers.

Once praised for his rapid and frankly authoritarian lockdown response to Covid, Sanchez has steadily lost popularity since, largely due to his dependence on far left forces, including separatists in Catalonia and nationalists in the Basque provinces. 

Although the ‘official’ issues in the campaign are economic – like the rest of Europe, Spain has been hard hit by steep rises in the cost of living and youth unemployment remains scandalously high – cultural clashes have also emerged to complicate the campaign.

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