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Vox: the far-right party that made shock gains in the regional polls

Not since far-right politician Blas Piñar lost his seat in Congress in 1982 has a group with such an extreme ideology set foot in any of the country’s parliaments

vox elecciones andaluzas 2018
Vox supporters celebrate the election results.

The election of far-right party Vox to the Andalusian regional government on Sunday has shown that the extreme right is no longer a political phantom. Since Blas Piñar, a far-right politician linked to former dictator Francisco Franco, lost his seat in Congress in 1982, no political party with this ideology has set foot in any of the country’s parliaments.

But this 36-year-long tradition came to an end on December 2 at the regional elections in Andalusia. With 98.9% of ballots counted, Vox received more than 391,000 votes (10.9%) which gives the far-right party 12 deputies – a result that far exceeded expectations.

This is a historic day, not only for Andalusia but for all of Spain

Vox leader Santiago Abascal

“Long live the resistance!” they shouted from the hotel where the party was following the results. Journalists from Spanish online daily Contexto and the television station La Sexta were not allowed to access the function.

Vox built its campaign along clear lines: Spanish nationalism, the fight against the independence movement in Catalonia, messages against immigration, the Historical Memory Law (which formally condemns the Franco regime and is being used to legally exhume the body of the dictator from the Valley of the Fallen monument), the Law against Sexist Violence, as well as constant praise for Spain’s security forces and the army.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, the head of the National Rally (formerly named National Front), congratulated Vox on Sunday’s results, writing on Twitter: “My warmest congratulations to our friends at Vox, who tonight won a very significant result for a young and dynamic movement.”

Spain's far-right VOX party leader Santiago Abascal and regional candidate Francisco Serrano.
Spain's far-right VOX party leader Santiago Abascal and regional candidate Francisco Serrano. REUTERS

Vox gained seats in every province but its best result was in Almería, where it emerged as the third-strongest political force. With two deputies in the province, it received more than 40,000 votes (16.8%). What’s more, in the town of El Ejido, where the far-right group focused its efforts, it was the top political force, winning 8,000 votes (29.5%). Vox also picked up two deputies in Cádiz (55,000 votes, 11.2%), Málaga (70,000, 11%) and Seville (92,000, 10%), and one in Córdoba (34,000, 9%), Granada (45,000, 11%), Huelva (17,000, 8%) and Jaén (27,000, 8%).

“We have the key to throw out the corrupt Socialists,” yelled Vox leader Santiago Abascal to a crowded hall in the hotel, after the election results were announced. The Socialist Party (PSOE), which has been in power in Andalusia for the past 36 years, has been accused of using public funds for personal gain.

Vox has spoken of putting up an “impassable  wall” in Melilla and Ceuta to keep out migrants

At the hotel, Abascal also attacked the conservative Popular Party (PP) as being “useless” and said the group had done nothing in the years the PSOE was in government.

“We are going to lead the reconquest,” said Francisco Serrano, Vox’s candidate for Andalusia. “Thanks to Vox, groundhog day in Andalusia is over,” he added, in reference to the fact that the PSOE has lost its absolute majority.

Since the beginning of the campaign, Vox has talked up the national significance of the Andalusian regional elections. The far-right party is convinced that a strong result on Sunday can be repeated at next year’s municipal, regional and European Parliament elections – and potentially at a national level if early general elections are called.

“We want to encourage all Andalusian people to participate. The ballots could change everything. This is a historic day, not only for Andalusia but for all of Spain,” Abascal said on Sunday morning ahead of the vote. “Voters should think of Andalusia and of Spain. Here we are all for one and for Spain,” Serrano repeated.

Vox has been voted into power without a government plan for the region. Only recently did the far-right group present a 100-point program for Spain, a plan that includes criminalizing illegal immigrants and suppressing the Andalusian regional assembly, the same one that it is now joining and which will give it funds as a member of the legislature.

Members of Vox say the success of the party is due to the fact that “it has connected with a very important part of the Andalusian electorate.” “We have touched on points that truly interest them.”

Vox believes that their strong result can be repeated at next year’s municipal, regional and European Parliament elections

“Vox has been the party that has marked the political debate of these elections. We have put border control and stopping the invasion of illegal immigration on the table,” said Javier Ortega, Vox secretary general, after the first projected results were announced.

The party is against same-sex marriage and abortion, and has centered many of its attacks on migrants and the Muslim community. Vox wants undocumented migrants to be denied medical attention in Spain and has also spoken of putting up an “impassable wall” in the Spanish exclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa – a measure similar to US President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico.

The party has also spoken about suspending the Schengen Area while there are Catalan independence leaders – such as former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont – hiding from justice in other European countries, shutting down regional television networks, lowering taxes, especially for those in the highest income bracket, freeing up land, promoting a law to protect bullfighting and suppressing the law against sexist violence.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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