The ultra-conservative and anti-immigration Vox has stormed into the Andalucian assembly in Sunday’s regional election, marking the first time a far-Right party has achieved parliamentary representation on any level in Spain’s recent history as a democracy.
The party that favours the end of autonomy in Catalonia and the expulsion of all immigrants who entered Spain illegally won 12 out of 109 seats in Andalucia’s parliament with 11 per cent of the vote.
“Vox was the party that led the political debate,” said the party’s secretary general, Javier Ortega.
“We put on the table the need to control our borders and end illegal immigration, end abusive levels of taxation and the need to put an end to ideological laws relating to gender.”
Despite running out narrow winner in the region it has ruled continuously for 36 years, the PSOE Socialist party of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez suffered a hugely disappointing result in Andalucia. The party’s all-time low of 28 per cent and 33 seats mean it will not be able to govern with a majority, even with the support of the Left-wing coalition Adelante Andalucia, which includes Podemos.
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Spain’s main conservative opposition force, the Popular Party (PP), also lost ground, sliding six percentage points to just under 21 per cent, while the liberal Ciudadanos was the night’s only winner among the established parties, doubling its share to 18 per cent.
Ahead of European and possibly a general election in 2019, Spain’s political scene appears more fractured than ever after the dramatic emergence of Vox on the extreme right of the spectrum.
Despite having seen its number of seats in the Andalucian parliament shorn from 33 to 26, the PP appeared to welcome the arrival of Vox on the political scene.
For the PP’s candidate for the presidency of the region, Juan Manuel Moreno, it was a “historic day” on which “Andalucia had chosen change”, saying he wants to lead a right-of-centre coalition including Vox and Ciudadanos.
“Ahead of this election we proposed change, now we guarantee change,” Mr Moreno told an ecstatic crowd of PP members in Seville.
Ciudadanos’ leader in Andalucia, Juan Marín, echoed the PP’s message. “There is a majority in the parliament for change; change has arrived in Andalucia,” Mr Marín said.
Ciudadanos’ national leader, Albert Rivera, challenged Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez to call national elections now that “the Andalucians have turned their back on you”.
The PP and Ciudadanos’ candidates have been careful not to describe Vox as far-Right, while also refusing to rule out accepting the support of the ultra-conservative grouping to remove the Socialists from power.
Andalucian President Susana Díaz blamed a low turnout of 59 per cent for her Socialist party’s small margin of victory, and asked all other mainstream political forces to freeze out Vox from the political scene.
“This phenomenon we have seen in other European countries is now present in the Andalucian parliament. I call on all the other political parties who consider themselves defenders of our democratic constitution to brake the extreme right,” she said.