22nd May 2024
Pedro Sánchez and Santiago Abascal
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Spanish government slams Vox leader for saying Sánchez could be ‘strung up by his feet’

The Spanish government slammed the leader of the far-right Vox party Santiago Abascal on Monday over comments he made suggesting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez would meet a dictator’s end and be ‘strung up by his feet’.

The outrage came after Abascal said there would come a time when ‘the Spanish people would want to string up (Sánchez) by the feet’.

‘This type of rhetoric … is an attempt to turn … our country into a place where hate speech and confrontation reigns,’ Sánchez told reporters on presenting his latest book, adding that it was a matter of ‘extraordinary seriousness’.

Earlier, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares expressed his ‘total rejection’ of Abascal’s comments which ‘constitute hate speech that seeks to polarise and incite violence’ ahead of talks with his counterparts in Brussels.

That type of language ‘hasn’t been heard in Spain for many decades, since times that were very dark’, he said, referring to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939-1975).

The minister also urged the right-wing opposition People’s Party (PP) to renounce its tie-up with the far-right under which the two parties jointly run five of Spain’s 17 regional governments and several local municipalities. ALSO READ: Spain’s Aragón becomes 4th region to be jointly governed by PP & far-right Vox.

‘You shouldn’t be doing anything with a leader like that,’ Albares said.

Abascal made the remarks in an interview with the Argentine daily Clarín at the weekend while visiting Buenos Aires to attend the swearing-in of Javier Milei as Argentina’s new ultra-libertarian president.

After flaunting his links to the new president, the Vox leader laid into Sánchez, notably for his approval of a controversial amnesty deal for Catalan pro-independence parties in order to stay in power. He ended his criticism with the words ‘there will come a time … when the Spanish people would want to string up (Sánchez) by the feet’.

Spain’s right-wing ABC newspaper said in an editorial that the Vox leader ‘must rectify [his comments] as soon as possible, because … appeals to violence cannot be tolerated, not even as a rhetorical resource’.

Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Nadia Calviño, who is set to become president of the European Investment Bank, denounced his remarks as ‘dangerous’.

‘I think we have to try and calm this kind of rhetoric as soon as possible,’ she told Onda Cero radio, adding that Abascal wanted ‘everything to be monopolised by hate’.

PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo also condemned Abascal’s remarks in comments on Telecinco TV, saying they were ‘regrettable’. He said the comments ‘do not deserve further observation than their condemnation’.

Feijòo also said that Abascal’s words fuelled what he called Sánchez’s attempts to create divisions in Spain. In a sign of the deepening polarisation in the country, socialist (PSOE) and PP leaders exchanged recriminations over Abascal’s comments. The PSOE also accused the PP of being ‘complicit’ with Vox’s ‘neofascism’. 

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