What do the last general elections in Spain tell us about the rise of the far-right party Vox? That question is on many people’s mind as another call for election divides the country one more time. Four elections in four years seem to represent the inability of the present government to secure the stability needed for the country to maintain a credible status among the European nations. The questions I am trying to answer is how Vox managed to rally the citizens . What are the possible catalysts that generated such a surge in the number of seats occupied in the government after the last election? Although there are far more possibilities, I came up with five points under which Vox possibly scored.
Like many far-right parties, Vox uses a specific rhetoric in his discourse. With words such as “restoration of national unity” and “patriotic alternative” Vox embraces the tenets of populist ideology. Drawing on immigration, Islamophobia as well as “gender ideology”, Vox uses themes that for some observers and politicians remind of the former Francoist ideology , although the political and global context are different. For Pedro Sanchez to use such analogy in his exhortation to vote, is significant enough to be mentioned.
The weaken socialist party and its failed alliance with the liberal Ciudadanos did not manage to secure an absolute majority in the parliament. The PP (conservative popular party) refused to ally with the socialists giving the opportunity for Vox to claim more seats and to become the third most important party. Furthermore, the PP symbolically with Ciudadanos decided to support Vox in his demand for banning the separatists parties all together. I find shocking that the freedom of expression whether it is political or not would be prohibited in a liberal democracy and it certainly leans dangerously toward the authoritarianism practiced under the regime of Franco.
Economic power of Catalonia
Catalonia has the status of autonomous community since 1979 but recent events starting around 2010, have triggered the more pressing push for independence. Catalonia represents roughly 20% of the GDP and resents the taxes imposed to support the rest of Spain. If separatist movements were to succeed, it would be a severe hit for the national economy. The violence that surrounded the protests for separatist movements is then an easy instrument to use in support of national unity.
History of claims for independence
The actual government has suffered from instability for some years. Spain , a constitutional monarchy since 1975, faces the misfortune to have been affected by the global economic crisis. As mentioned earlier, many elections and the threat from Catalonia to leave, fragilized even more an unstable socialist government. It is important to note that Catalonia is not the only province to ask for separation. The Basque Country, which is divided between France and Spain, also manifested the intention to become independent in the past but the violence has stopped since it received its autonomous status in 1979. It does not mean that if Catalonia succeed in becoming independent that the Basque Country will not follow in the same footsteps. That situation would most likely trigger a desire to separate as well, even though it would be more complicated due to its division with France.
Spain has a history of tolerance and multicultural acceptance. During the Middle Ages [especially under the occupation of the Umayyads in Al Andalus] and until the Reconquista that started in 1492, co-existence of cultures and religions has been pretty peaceful and fruitful in many domains. Spain is now facing another migration crisis and this time the spectre of islamophobia is at the centre of the debate which plays in favour of right-wing parties.
Did all these points explain why Vox challenged the leading party at the last election? I believe so but other factors can weigh in and this is the case of external support such as other far-right movements in France, Italy and the Netherlands . It is doubtful that the Catalonia crisis will resolve anytime soon , which makes me wonder how Vox will play in the near future in a country that has to deal with chaotic internal politics and a migration crisis that is seen as a threat to the national unity .