Spain has its own version of the far-right and the populist turned mainstream, part of a wave that has been surging through Europe: Vox, a relative newcomer on the political field, harking back to what it defines as old Spanish values.
Its campaign motto for the 28 April general election is ‘For Spain’. This rallying cry plays into the party’s ultra-nationalist rhetoric, with speeches and videos including frequent references to what they see as the country’s past grandeur.
This includes the glorification of the ‘Reconquista‘, a conflict lasting almost 800 years and resulting in the fall of 8th-century Muslim territories to Christian Kingdoms, and the Moors – and other minorities – being driven out of the Iberian peninsula.
Vox’s platform is most notably based on extreme anti-immigration and radical anti-feminism policies. They’ve also built an image as staunchly pro-Spanish unity, not only by criticising the Catalan independence movement, but by actively fighting it.
Indeed, Vox’s secretary general and lawyer, Javier Ortega Smith, is one of the two members acting as ‘popular prosecutors‘ in the Catalan trial against jailed pro-independence leaders. Vox has also used the high visibility of the trial to amplify its image ahead of the elections.
Both Ortega Smith and Santiago Abascal, the Vox party’s president, advocate proposals including elimination of devolved powers, the defence of bullfighting, the abolition of the historical memory law, and populist measures such as dramatic lowering of taxes.
Vox also frequently urges for the current Catalan president, Quim Torra, to be imprisoned. In an act in Barcelona, Abascal proclaimed that the party would push for [Torra’s] arrest via the prosecutor, putting him in the hands of the judiciary. ‘The only thing we’ll offer him will be a fair trial,’ he proclaimed, vowing to ‘suspend [Catalonia’s] autonomy, and take over its government.’
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Chants to detain politicians is not the only similarity between Vox and current USA president Donald Trump. The party’s pledge is to ‘make Spain great again’ by also banning parties and organisations ‘that pursue the destruction of the Nation’s territorial unity and sovereignty.’
Vox also favours putting Spanish above Spain’s other co-official languages, getting rid of the Catalan police (the Mossos d’Esquadra), and repealing the historical memory law, aimed at recognising the victims of the Spanish Civil War.
Vox broke into mainstream politics in the Andalusian parliament in January this year, heralding a steady rise in the polls for the party, predicting that, for the first time in 40 years, a far-right party may again have a chance at entering the Spanish congress.
According to Spain’s CIS public research institute, Vox could come out of the elections with 29 to 34 seats in Congress, 3-4 of them coming from Catalan constituencies.
There is additionally some speculation that they could be part of a potential right-wing government, in a majority-security alliance with Ciudadanos (Cs) and the People’s Party (PP). The three parties have appeared together before, notably at a demonstration in Plaza Colón, or Columbus square in Madrid, to speak out against dialogue with Catalonia.
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