In post-Franco first for Spain, far-right party becomes kingmaker in Andalusia
BARCELONA – Reuters
In this Dec. 2, 2018 photo, Spain's far-right Vox Party President Santiago Abascal (C), with the general secretary, Javier Ortega (L), and regional candidate Francisco Serrano take part in a rally during regional elections in Seville. The Socialists won just 33 seats in the Andalusia legislature, compared to 47 in 2015, making them lose control of Spain's most populated region for the first time in 36 years.
A far-right party on Jan. 9 took a role in the formation of a regional government in Spain for the first time since the Franco dictatorship ended in 1975.
The anti-immigrant Vox agreed to support a center-right coalition in Andalusia. It became kingmaker in Spain’s most populous region - a traditional Socialist Party stronghold - after 12 of its candidates unexpectedly won seats in an election in December.
While Vox will not be part of the Andalusia government, bitter memories of military dictatorship had until now prevented far-right parties from making any inroads into the Spanish political mainstream.
Francisco Franco died in 1975 and democracy was re-established three years later.
In return for its support, Vox made a 37-point agreement with the conservative People’s Party that includes commitments to tackle illegal immigration, reduce regional taxes and combat Islamic fundamentalism.
“Today illegal immigration and corruption lose and the Andalusians, the defense of the family and a more pluralistic politics win,” Vox deputy leader Javier Ortega told reporters.
The People’s Party struck a separate accord with the center-right Ciudadanos to form the coalition government, ending an unbroken 36-year run of Socialist administrations in the southern region.
After December’s election, the minority Socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said if the main opposition parties relied on the support of Vox to take office, they risked turning the region into a “cradle of the far right.”
A spokeswoman said on Jan. 9 the administration regretted “the radicalization seen on the part of the People’s Party and Ciudadanos.”
Agreement did not include a proposal by Vox to repeal domestic violence legislation, a divisive demand that had caused discomfort among some People’s Party leaders and led women’s groups to call a protest next week.
Spain is readying for a busy electoral year, with polls showing that the far right could also win seats in other parts of the country.