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Spain’s Far-Right Party Gains Seats in Andalusian Election

Spain’s far-right party, Vox, won 12 parliamentary seats in the Andalusian regional elections on Dec. 2. The results of the election have come as a surprise, since the far-right party, led by Santiago Abascal, was only expected to win five seats. There are 109 seats in the Andalusian regional parliament, and with this win, Vox could form a right-wing governing coalition with the conservative People’s Party (PP) and Citizens party.

Voters cast their ballots in the Andalusian regional election in Spain on Dec. 2. Photo:  REUTERS/Jon Nazca .

Voters cast their ballots in the Andalusian regional election in Spain on Dec. 2. Photo: REUTERS/Jon Nazca.

Vox’s victory is the latest in a nationalist wave that has been spreading across Europe. The win comes as a shock, as memories of life under Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship still linger in Spain.

Abascal’s newly strengthened party is anti-Muslim, tough on immigration and opposed to Catalan independence and abortion. The party also favors enforcing harsher penalties for the ETA Basque separatist movement, mitigating domestic violence laws, reducing or abolishing taxes and centralizing power.

Newly-elected Vox Andalusian representative Francisco Serrano told a crowd of supporters, “Now is the moment to say loud and clear who we are and that we have come to stay.” Vox boasts a nationalist stance, stating that Spain must “put the needs of Spain and Spaniards ahead of the needs of oligarchies, chieftains, lobbies or supranational groups.”

High unemployment has plagued Andalusia, Spain’s southernmost and most populous region which acts as the main entrance to Spain for migrants from the Mediterranean.

Voters congregate at a campaign meeting of Spain’s far-right Vox party in Granada. Photo:  AFP .

Voters congregate at a campaign meeting of Spain’s far-right Vox party in Granada. Photo: AFP.

The Andalusian election had been scheduled for March 2019, but regional Socialist Party leader Susana Diaz called for an early election to guarantee stability. While the Socialist Party did win a majority, their representation dropped dramatically from 47 to 33 seats and the party lost the control it had possessed since 1982. “Despite winning the election, it is a sad night for the Socialist Party,” Diaz said. “The worst thing is that the extreme right, a phenomenon that has appeared in the rest of Europe, has arrived here.”

The far-right’s success has also weakened the national Socialist Party, which has maintained control since Franco’s military dictatorship ended in 1975. This is a setback for new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who overtook former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote on May 31. The Andalusian regional election was Sanchez’s first poll test since his rise to power.
Sanchez has failed to pass a national budget, and if he continues to fail, there may be a call for early elections instead of  him serving out his term to 2020. Still, Sanchez responded to the election results with optimism. “My government will continue to push for a regenerating and pro-European project for Spain,” he said. “The results in Andalusia bolster our commitment to defend the Constitution and Democracy in the face of fear.”