The rise of the far-right in Europe continues
The far-right Vox party of Spain made significant ground in the recent elections. Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, claimed that “a political and cultural change” is happening, following Vox becoming the third-largest party in Spain. The party moved above the left block (Unidas Podemos and Citizens), who finished below Vox. What does the surge of Vox in the November elections mean for the future of Spain?
After their inception in 2013, Vox were only considered a small group with grand ambitions – opposing illegal immigration and for strengthening borders. However, in December 2018, the Vox party achieved 12 votes in Andalucía, opening the doors for Vox to be considered a viable alternative to the parties on the left. The small group then became an important player in the April 2019 elections, going from zero to 24 seats in the Spanish parliament. This was considered a monumental achievement for Vox.
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, was wary of the threat posed by Vox before April’s elections and claimed Vox were “radicalising and swelling the political discourse.” Despite Sánchez winning the April election, the threat of Vox, along with not securing a majority in government, presented a collapse in traditional parties winning major support and, more importantly, Vox’s message was increasingly resonating with voters.
The Spanish elections last weekend presented an opportunity to move beyond the political deadlock, with Pedro Sánchez reiterating his desire “to strengthen democracy.” Unfortunately, Pedro Sánchez won only 120 of the 350 seats, falling short again in securing a parliamentary majority. Spanish Journalist, Iñaki Gabilondo, has emphasised how voters were increasingly fed-up with left-wing politics and its inability to restore leadership, enabling Vox to be that hope. Just before November’s elections, the Vox party received electoral support following the exhumation of Francisco Franco. According to Graham Keeley, a writer for The Independent, voters tilted towards Abascal for speaking out against the exhumation of Franco, whereas other party leaders were silent on the issue.
“nationalism is becoming increasingly widespread”
What these elections have showcased, similarly to other European countries, is that nationalism is becoming increasingly widespread. The waving of Spanish flags has become all too common, symbolising a challenge to the left. Abascal’s message after the election was all too similar to the populist messages that we have come to hear frequently all over Europe, and was further strengthened by the fact that neither party in November’s election was able to achieve a majority in parliament.
Spanish politics is currently experiencing a turbulent time. Spain is at risk of fostering an environment of further disillusionment with the traditional parties, and an embracement of a far-right fervour in mainstream politics. The division in Catalonia, high unemployment rates, and illegal migration has culminated in the surge of the Vox party. Thus the true winner of last weekend’s elections was Vox, and the resurgence of far-right nationalism in Spain.
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