20th June 2024
Ramón Tamames with Santiago Abascal
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Spain’s far-right Vox group fails in no-confidence vote against government

UPDATED on 22 March 2023: 

The Spanish Congress dismissed an attempt by the far-right Vox party to topple the government on Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly against a no-confidence motion brought against Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (see earlier full report below).

The motion only earned the support of Vox’s 52 MPs plus one rogue vote, for a total of 53. The government received 201 votes, while the 91 members of the right-wing People’s Party (PP), the leading opposition party, abstained.

Original full report:

Spain’s coalition government between the PSOE socialists, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, and the left-wing Podemos party, was facing a no-confidence debate on Tuesday brought by the country’s third largest party, the far-right Vox group, yet which has little chance of succeeding when it comes to a vote, expected to be on Wednesday.

No other party has said that it will support the attempt by Vox’s 52 MPs to oust Sánchez from government.

In a move that has been widely panned by other political parties and Spanish media, Vox leader Santiago Abascal has broken with custom and hasn’t presented himself as an alternative prime minister. Instead, in an attempt to lure votes from centrist and leftist parties, Vox convinced a former communist party member and university professor to lead the no-confidence measure.

Ramón Tamames, 89, who was an MP in the 1970s and 1980s, has pledged that if the vote were to succeed, his only act as prime minister would be to immediately call for a national election to coincide with a local election already scheduled for 28 May.

While Tamames has said that he doesn’t agree with many of Vox’s positions, which include its negation of climate change, unfounded charges that migrants are linked to more violent crimes, and its attacks on feminism. But he said that he does share the party’s concerns regarding Catalan and Basque independence.

Vox announced its intention to bring the no-confidence motion after Sánchez’s government reformed laws on sedition and misuse of public funds to relieve the legal pressure on Catalan pro-independence groups last December. ALSO READ: Spanish MPs vote to reform penal code amid constitutional controversy.

‘Señor Abascal, the candidate that you have presented is simply a decoy for you to hide behind and for you to hide your despicable political agenda,’ Sánchez said to the organiser of the vote.

‘Should I apologise?’ Abascal asked, with irony. ‘Our intention was not to degrade the historic legacy of this legislature. We cannot degrade it more than you already have.’

The traditional right-wing People’s Party (PP), who lead the parliamentary opposition to the government, have said that they will abstain. PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo has criticised the vote as only handing a parliamentary victory to Sánchez, and as unnecessary with a general election due in December.

Sánchez’s coalition with Podemos, which governs in a minority supported by smaller regionalist, and even pro-independence parties in Catalonia and the Basque Country, is trying to recover from a recent split over what to do with their own sexual consent law that has inadvertently led to reduced prison terms for hundreds of convicted felons. 

Political observers say that Vox is trying to gain traction before a busy election year where it aims to become key to right-wing governments in local town halls at the end of May. At the end of the year, it will be hoping to enter a national coalition government, perhaps with the PP.

This is the second time that Vox has brought a no-confidence vote against the current government. Its first attempt to topple Sánchez in October 2020 for his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic and replace him with Abascal flopped. ALSO READ: Far-right Vox party fails to get any other MPs to support no-confidence vote.

Tamames, a respected economist, was a leading member of Spain’s communists who spent time behind bars as a political prisoner before the restoration of democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. He then began his journey across the political spectrum and joined a right-wing precursor to the PP. 

Tamames has now completed his political metamorphosis by aligning himself with Vox. The party, formed in 2013, first entered the Spanish Congress with 24 seats in Spain’s April 2019 general election – later increasing to 52 seats in the November 2019 election, making it Spain’s third largest party.

Tamames has described his radical shift as an evolution, saying that he is ‘not a fossil’.

‘My presence here is one of my last tributes to this beautiful country,’ he told the chamber on Tuesday.

Ramón Tamames with Santiago Abascal
Ramón Tamames, right, with Santiago Abascal, president of VOX. (Congreso.es)

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