Spainish Election: Vox Party Could Win First Seats In Parliament For Far Right Since Franco Died
In a few days Spain will vote in its third in just four years but with nationalistic and anti EU feeling sweeping the nation as it is the rest of Europe this vote could produce a very different outcome to the inconclusive results of the previous three. The far-right party Vox is predicted to pick up some parliamentary seats for the first time since the country transitioned to democracy about 40 years ago.
Supporters like the Vox party’s tough stances against immigration and feminism, and against the push for independence in the Catalonia region in northeastern Spain. Critics say it has revived Spanish nationalist ideas that had become fringe after the fall of Spain’s long dictatorship. In consequence, the usual slurs, fascist, Nazi, racist, Islamophobe, hate merchants, far right thugs etc, which are thrown from the left come as no surprise to Juan José Bonilla, Vox’s lead organiser in the agricultural, ultra — conservative El Ejido region where support for Vox is strongest. Bonilla only joined the fledgling party last November after years of loyally voting for the mainstream conservative Popular Party (PP).
A patriotic man, Bonilla dismiises the fragmentation of the Spanish Right, waving a Spanish flag from as he addresses the media.
“See this? This flag? It is like we are ashamed of it, you cannot hang it outside or it’s looked upon as a disgrace,” he says. “When I wave it they call me a ‘racist’ and ‘fascist’, but at Vox rallies we fly the flag. It is a question of pride.”
His words are clearly nationalistic, but are being echoed all around Europe and further afield as charismatic leaders emerge to galvanise resistsnce to the globalisation of mediocrity.
“They’re increasing hate, racism, and a lot of things that were hidden,” says María Bayó, 40, who is talking about politics with friends outside a bar in the outskirts of Barcelona, in Catalonia.
Bayó is a supporters of Catalonia’s bid for independence from Spain, a divisive issue and a different face of nationalism. But she blames right-wing parties for railing against secessionists and immigration, while distracting from important problems like the lack of jobs and affordable housing. Spain’s high unemployment rate, which hovers above 14%, is the top concern for most Spaniards, according to the Center for Sociological Research.
Originally slated for next year, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called early elections after his center-left Socialist government failed to get its budget passed in February.
As with both 2015 and 2016 parliamentary elections, no single party is expected to win an overall majority on Sunday. That could mean drawn-out jockeying among parties to form a coalition government. Under its charismatic leader Santiago Abascal, the Vox party — with its slogan ‘Por Espana’, ‘For Spain’ — believes it can form a part of a right wing coalition by outperforming polling predictions. The party has been filling sports stadiums and bullfighting rings with huge crowds waving Spanish flags to rousing patriotic music in a way that the Trump campaign enthused supporters in the USA’s 2016 election..
It has been an astonishing transformation. At the last election in 2016, Vox polled just 0.2 per cent of the vote, but polls now show it on course to win 10 per cent nationally, translating to more than 30 seats in Spain’s 350-seat national parliament.
Mr Bonilla gives three reasons for the sudden success of Vox, which was founded five years ago by a breakaway group of disgruntled PP politicians, and scored its first big electoral win last December in the regional election for Andalusia, where El Ejido voted 29.5 per cent for Vox.
The first is the Catalonia independence issue, and the failure of Spain’s mainstream parties to clamp down on regional nationalism; the second is identity and immigration; and the third (and here Mr Bonilla mimes the palming off of backhanders) “corruption, corruption and corruption.”