The rise of Vox

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - VOX POP -

Up un­til Sun­day, Spain had a rather im­pres­sive claim to fame about its re­cent past, when com­pared with other coun­tries in Europe. This was that since democ­racy was re­stored in 1978 – af­ter nearly 40 years of dic­ta­tor­ship – no party of the far-right had man­aged to win seats in any par­lia­ment – ei­ther re­gional or na­tional.

Peo­ple might point to fact that the Par­tido Pop­u­lar (PP) was founded by a for­mer min­is­ter in Franco’s gov­ern­ment, Manuel Fraga – but, even though the PP may have had some very right-wing mem­bers in its ranks – it has tried to po­si­tion it­self on the ‘cen­treright’ of pol­i­tics and not on the ex­tremes. So it came as a shock to many when the neo-fas­cist party Vox won 12 seats in the An­dalucía par­lia­ment dur­ing the re­gional elec­tion at the week­end, with the party now hold­ing the bal­ance of power – sit­ting in the po­si­tion of king­mak­ers.

Many read­ers will not have heard of Vox. So who are they and where did they come from?

A small in­sight into their mind-set was re­vealed dur­ing an in­ter­view shown on the Sexta chan­nel on Mon­day night with a prom­i­nent mem­ber who will be­come a deputy in the An­dalucía par­lia­ment. One of the ques­tions posed to him was this: “Was Franco a dic­ta­tor?”

He an­swered by laugh­ing, and not an­swer­ing. But the ques­tion came back at him four or five times, so fi­nally he had to give a re­ply which was: “No, he wasn’t.”

It will not sur­prise peo­ple that Franco is still revered by some sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion in Spain. Af­ter all, he and his hench­men won the civil war and ruled Spain for nearly 40 years. How­ever, any­one who is tempted to feel nos­tal­gic about the dic­ta­tor (as some Bri­tish peo­ple still do) should read Paul Pre­ston’s book ‘The Span­ish Holo­caust’ in which the his­to­rian re­veals how the Franco regime set out to sys­tem­at­i­cally purge and de­stroy any op­po­si­tion which did not share their view of a Catholic, na­tion­al­ist, fas­cist coun­try.

Vox, as a fas­cist party, are ‘chil­dren of Franco’ but at the same time they are a mod­ern party of the ex­treme right which is not just based on nos­tal­gia.

Like other sim­i­lar par­ties in Europe they are xeno­pho­bic. They are very much ‘Spain for the Span­ish’. They have not ad­vo­cated the mass de­por­ta­tion of non-Spa­niards but are in favour of strict con­trols and im­me­di­ate repa­tri­a­tion for il­le­gal im­mi­grants and the build­ing of very large walls in the Span­ish en­claves of Ceuta and Melilla to keep Africans out (re­mem­ber ‘I will build a great wall…..and make Mex­ico pay for it’.)

Vox’s pres­i­dent San­ti­ago Abas­cal (photo be­low) has linked delin­quency with im­mi­gra­tion, although failed to pro­vide any fig­ures to back it up. He has said that im­mi­grants are re­ceiv­ing hand-outs from the state at the ex­pense of na­tive Spa­niards.

Vox are not very keen on the ad­vances made in gen­der equal­ity in Spain. Dur­ing his ‘vic­tory’ speech on Sun­day night, Sr Abas­cal (who in­ci­den­tally is di­vorced) spoke about how his party will work for the for­got­ten/put upon half of the pop­u­la­tion, ie, men. Vox want to throw out re­cent leg­is­la­tion cov­er­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence which af­fords greater pro­tec­tion to vic­tims and seeks to elim­i­nate this scourge from Span­ish so­ci­ety. Sr Abas­cal has also said that ‘fem­i­nism op­presses men’ and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence leg­is­la­tion ‘crim­i­nalises’ men.

He is also against abor­tion and wants to see it banned.

Vox are ho­mo­pho­bic. They would re­peal gay mar­riage laws and make it a ‘union be­tween a man and a woman’.

And while there are cer­tain sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion which your av­er­age Vox mem­ber dis­likes, there is one par­tic­u­lar col­lec­tive they dis­like more than any other – the Mus­lims. Sr Abas­cal set out their po­si­tion with this state­ment: “Spain has been built against Is­lam, via the Re­con­quest.”

As a fiercely na­tion­al­is­tic party there is also an­other ‘his­toric’ flag-wav­ing is­sue which is guar­an­teed to stir the blood of any ‘right-think­ing’ Spa­niard and, there­fore, the Vox party. That is of course Gi­bral­tar – the small but highly-strate­gic piece of land which forms part of the land­mass of Spain, but be­longs to an­other coun­try. If Vox man­age to ma­noeu­vre them­selves into a po­si­tion of in­flu­ence in a na­tional elec­tion it’s a safe bet that there will trou­ble over Gi­bral­tar.

An­other cen­tre-piece of Vox think­ing which has won them much of their sup­port is their anti-re­gional stance. With a lot of anger in cer­tain sec­tions of Spain di­rected to­wards Cata­lan na­tion­al­ism, the Vox mantra of the state tak­ing back con­trol of front­line ser­vices such as ed­u­ca­tion, health, the courts, etc has struck a chord with some vot­ers.

In some ways it may seem that Vox are fight­ing the civil war once again – and it would be dif­fi­cult to ar­gue with that on many fronts.

So who are Vox vot­ers? Un­sur­pris­ingly they are pre­dom­i­nantly male. It would be hard to class vot­ers in Spain as be­ing ‘white males’ due to the fact that the Moors spent more than 700 years in the coun­try and many Spa­niards have North African blood and fea­tures. How­ever, th­ese are the peo­ple who Vox are aim­ing at – men who think of them­selves as white males. Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors es­ti­mated on Mon­day that as many as seven out of 10 of Vox vot­ers in An­dalucía were the un­fairer sex.

It is tempt­ing to see Vox as a flash in pan (or some­thing else you see in your pan). But with the huge amount of pub­lic­ity they have gained in Spain in the last week, it is prob­a­ble that they will be with us for a while yet. With na­tional elec­tions likely within the next 12 months (as the So­cial­ist party, PSOE, is un­able at present to pass its bud­get), it is safe to say that Vox will now be a fifth force in Span­ish pol­i­tics (along with the PSOE, PP, Pode­mos and Ci­u­dadanos), fur­ther mud­dy­ing the wa­ters when it comes to elect­ing a gov­ern­ment.

In An­dalucía Vox pre­dom­i­nately took votes from the PP. On a na­tional level it is hard to see how the PP can win an elec­tion with the com­pe­ti­tion now pre­sented by the hard right of Vox and ‘soft’ right of Ci­u­dadanos. Vox are cer­tainly pre­sent­ing an ad­di­tional headache for the PP, with im­por­tant voices in the party al­ready warn­ing against new leader Pablo Casado’s pol­icy of court­ing Vox vot­ers with nods to the far right. Th­ese ‘voices’ have sig­nalled that it would be very dif­fi­cult for the PP to come out on top in a na­tional elec­tion if they have no ap­peal to vot­ers in the ‘cen­tre’.

Vox have cer­tainly thrown the cat among the pi­geons and will cause a huge amount of soul search­ing, de­bate and con­fronta­tion in Spain in the com­ing months.

They are not pretty, they don’t smell very nice – but sadly they have ar­rived.

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