MADRID, Nov 11, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – With its hard line against Catalan
separatism, immigration and feminism, far-right party Vox was the big winner
of Spain’s repeat general election on Sunday, surging into third place.
The party won 52 seats — more than doubling the 24 it took during its
April parliamentary debut in the most significant showing by a far-right
faction since Spain’s return to democracy following dictator Francisco
Franco’s death in 1975.
– Founded by PP members –
Vox, meaning “voice” in Latin, was launched in 2014 by Santiago Abascal and
several other disgruntled members of the hardline fringe of the rightwing
conservative Popular Party (PP).
At the time, Abascal blasted then PP premier Mariano Rajoy for not
repealing measures passed by a previous Socialist government such as same-sex
marriage legislation or the law of historical memory seeking to recognise
those who suffered under Franco’s dictatorship.
And last month, Abascal denounced the Socialist government for exhuming
Franco’s remains from a grandiose mausoleum and moving them to a more
discreet burial site, calling it the “profanation” of a grave.
– Rapid rise –
Vox struggled to gain traction at first, attracting only a smattering of
voters but it December 2018 it burst on the scene, winning 10 percent of the
vote in a regional election in Andalusia, Spain’s most populous region.
The party then joined forces with the PP and business-friendly Ciudadanos
to oust the Socialists from power in the southern region where they had ruled
In April’s election, Vox went on to win 2.6 million votes and on Sunday
that rose to more than 3.5 million votes, becoming the party that won the
most votes in the southeastern region of Murcia and in Spain’s North African
enclave of Ceuta.
In his victory speech, Abascal claimed the party’s rise was the “most
meteoric and rapid in Spanish democracy”.
– Catalonia and immigration –
Analysts say it was Vox’s hard line on Catalan separatism that was
responsible for its success. He ramped up his rhetoric in October after
Spain’s top court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders over a failed
2017 independence bid, triggering days of often violent protest that saw
demonstrators fighting running battles with police.
Even before that, Vox had played an active role in the separatists’ trial
by using a peculiarity of the Spanish legal system that allowed the party act
as co-accuser — or “people’s prosecutor”.
The party wants separatist parties banned, the region’s autonomy to be
suspended and its president Quim Torra arrested.
It also wants the deportation of all illegal immigrants as well as those in
Spain legally who have committed a crime; it has also lobbied to repeal a
pioneering law on gender violence that established special courts for
victims, and defends bullfighting.
The party’s deputy, Javier Ortega-Smith, has been accused of anti-Semitism
for criticisms of financier George Soros, a Hungarian Jew who emigrated to
the United States after World War II and who has long been involved with
groups promoting a liberal democratic agenda and open borders.
– Alliances –
Before its surge in Sunday’s election, Vox had done worse than predicted by
opinion polls in European, regional and local elections in May.
But just as in Andalusia, its support has helped the PP and Ciudadanos to
govern in the Madrid and Murcia regions.