Jim Lawley

What the rise of Vox means for Spain

Vox party leader Santiago Abascal (photo: Getty)

Vox, the most right-wing of Spain’s mainstream political parties, has emerged considerably strengthened from Sunday’s local and regional elections. With the left-wing vote slumping badly, the Partido Popular, the largest right-wing party, also had an excellent night, but crucially it will need the support of Vox to govern in many regions and town halls.         

These elections then suggest that Vox may be a highly influential (albeit junior) partner in the central government after the general election which, it has just been announced, will be held on 23 July. At present it is the third-strongest party in the national parliament with 52 of the 350 seats, while the Partido Popular is the second-strongest with 88 seats. These two right-wing parties already govern in coalition in the Castile-León region and if, as now seems likely, they can join forces in July to oust Spain’s fragile Socialist-led government, they doubtless will.     

With a Partido Popular-Vox coalition in power, political life in Spain would be radically different. Both the present left-wing government and much of the mainstream media routinely refer to Vox as ‘la ultraderecha’ (the far right); during a recent parliamentary debate one minister described Vox as a ‘banda de fascistas’ (band of fascists). The staunchly conservative Vox defends the constitution, participates actively in the democratic process and can plausibly claim to have enriched Spain’s young democracy by representing people who previously didn’t vote because they felt no party spoke for them.

Vox is not fascist but it is always happy to challenge consensus. The party was founded in 2013 by fugitives from the Partido Popular disgusted by its meek compliance with the instruction from the European Court of Human Rights to release convicted Basque terrorists. Today, Vox remains committed to national sovereignty and is the most Eurosceptic party in this overwhelmingly Europhile country; during one parliamentary debate, Santiago Abascal, the party’s leader, criticised the European Union’s ‘Soviet pretensions’.

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