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Vox uses budget dispute in Andalusia to push its far-right agenda

The new financial plan will include a project to celebrate Spain’s conquest of America, a hotline for victims of “inter-family violence” and plans to streamline the region’s public sector

The premier of Andalusia, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla (c), and the deputy permier Juan Marín (l), shake hands with Vox regional spokesperson Alejandro Hernández.
The premier of Andalusia, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla (c), and the deputy permier Juan Marín (l), shake hands with Vox regional spokesperson Alejandro Hernández.

The Spanish far-right group Vox has successfully negotiated hard-line changes to the 2019 budget of Andalusia. The southern region is governed by a right-wing coalition of the conservative Popular Party (PP) and center-right group Ciudadanos (Citizens) but depends on the support of Vox, which won 12 deputies at last year’s regional election, putting it in the position of kingmaker after no party secured an outright majority.

Vox has exploited this position to push for far-right policies in the Andalusian parliament, and on June 4, the party announced it would block the regional government’s budget in its entirety unless it took a harder line on issues such as immigration.

For the first time in nearly 37 years, Andalusia will have a budget from a right-wing regional government

The budget dispute has also been used by Vox to put pressure on the PP and Ciudadanos as the three parties negotiate power-sharing agreements in several regional and municipal governments. The fractured results of the regional and municipal elections on May 26 mean that, like in Andalusia, the PP and Ciudadanos need the support of Vox if they are to govern in regions including Madrid, as well as in Madrid City Hall. But the negotiations have been complicated by Ciudadanos’ reticence to engage in direct talks with Vox or allow the far-right party into government.

Against this tense background, Vox maintained its threat to reject the PP-Ciudadanos budget in Andalusia until the very last moment, waiting for the final call from Vox’s president Santiago Abascal. The outcome of Andalusia’s budget depended less on regional negotiations and more on what was happening between the three parties on a national level.

On the budget dispute, Guzmán Ahumada, the regional spokesperson for Adelante Andalusia (the regional branch of left-wing Podemos), said “the autonomy of Andalusia has ended up in Abascal’s office, it’s very sad.”

On Wednesday, Vox’s parliamentary spokesperson, Alejandro Hernández, finally announced that the party would withdraw its amendment to reject the government’s budget plans. For the first time in nearly 37 years, Andalusia will have a budget from a right-wing regional government.

The budget agreement between the three parties lists 34 points including measures to lower taxes, eliminate public entities, increase the number of audits and streamline the public sector in Andalusia. It is the first time that the logos of Vox, Ciudadanos and the PP have appeared together on the same official document.

The autonomy of Andalusia has ended up in Abascal’s office, it’s very sad

Guzmán Ahumada, Adelante Andalusia deputy

What’s more, Vox has also won concessions on “family violence.” This is the term the far-right group uses instead of “gender violence,” given its belief that laws covering such offenses discriminate against men.

Also under the agreement, the so-called “democratic memory” program – aimed at providing redress on a regional level for victims of the Spanish Civil War and subsequent Franco dictatorship – will only be developed to investigate, locate and recover mass graves and create DNA banks; and an emergency hotline for “victims of family violence” will be set up in 2020. The regional tax minister clarified that this line will not replace the 016 hotline for abused women.

The right-wing coalition government also accepted Vox’s plans to create a project called “1492: a new world.” This initiative is aimed at shining a positive light on Spain’s “discovery of America and other later feats such as the circumnavigation of the globe.”

The budget plan also cuts €600,000 in funding for “associations related to promoting and integrating immigrants” and reallocates it to “buildings and other judicial constructions.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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