Contributed by Jim Hayes
Vox has gained 12 parliamentary seats in regional election in Andalusia on 2 December. Andalusia is Spain’s southernmost region.
The result is attracting a great deal of attention, because this the first time that a Francoist party has made headway, since the end of the Franco dictatorship, which lasted from 1936 to 1975. It brings an ominous implication for the whole of Spain.
With 6.5 million residents, this is the most populous part of Spain. It is also the poorest and has the highest unemployment rate, not only of Spain, but in the whole of Europe.
Jubilation at Vox headquarters in the regional capital Sevillia.
Video from France 24
This is a traditional stronghold of the Socialist Party, which has been in government for 36 years. But its support base has been shrinking and it took a further hit at this election, resulting in the lowest vote for the party on record.
Traditional rivals, the Popular Party also took a hit, and this benefited Ciudadanos, which more than dounbled its seats to 21, and is the contender for the Popular Party’s spot in the political spectrum. Indications are that a considerable part of the Socialist Party base did not even bother to vote. Only 56.5 percent of the electorate did.
Although the Socialist Party stillgained the most vots at 29 percent, and holds the largest number of seats, 33 in the 109 seat parliament, it is 14 less than before and not enough to form the new government. To have a chance of doing so, it will have to form an alliance with the anti-austerity party Podemos, which increased its seats from 15 to 17. This is still short of a majority, forming of a government will require some sort of deal with one of the other parties.
The alternative is a Popular Party and Cuidadanos led government, which brings Vox into the coalition or some other form of agreement.
In answer to the dilemma, the Socialists hav appealed to the Popular Party and Ciudadanos not to sell their souls to the fascists and help build “a wall” against the threat they pose. Podemos has made a similar call. The Popular party and Cuidadanos are signalling that they do indeed want to bringing Vox’ although this does come with a measure of hesitation. The risk is being branded as pro-fascist, and this could lead to new divisions within and loss of more of the support base.
Behind this situation, is the falling standing of traditional politics and political parties. A large part of the population is looking for alternatives. Driving this, is the failure of governments to resolve the ongoing economic crisis and its cost on the standard of living for most of the population. Exposed and rampant corruption has taken a further toll on traditional politics and parties. These are national problems. Not only Andalusian.
National politics brings in another important factor. Growing instability brings about fear. The push by the Catalans for independence and echoes of this in other regions, has been used by the major parties to stroke this fear, telling their constituencies that this will cost them their jobs and homes.
It has created fertile ground for Vox to come in as the defenders of Spain. They offer an answer based on a hard line in the defence of Spain. It is the reason why they have taken on board the Trumpesque slogan, “make again great again.” Their supporters are coming out into the streets in growing numbers, waving the national flag, saluting in the fascist style and singing the old Franco era songs.
Rally in Madrid on 1 December against the miion plus march for independence in Barcelona
Video from PressTV
A rally last year in Barcelona against the Catalan referendum on Independence calling for a Unite Spain and the crowd displays the fascist salute.
Video from Ruptly
In Andalusia they promised to take action on what they call “abusive levels of taxation,” put a stop to the inflow of refugees, blamed for taking scarce jobs, and Islam, blamed for wrecking society.
It is no surprise that Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front tweeted: “Strong and warm congratulations to my friends from Vox, who tonight in Spain scored a meaningful result for such a young and dynamic movement.”
Another factor that must be counted in, is the fall of the Popular Party government in Madrid and its replacement by a minority Socialist Party government a couple of months ago. This could only come about by securing an agreement with Podemos and the independence parties to not vote for a non-confidence motion against them. The Socialists refused to enter into a formal coalition, which would politically pull them in Podemos’ direction and making major concessions to the independence movements.
This go it alone strategy has boxed in the government from both sides, making it largely ineffective. It was unable to pass its first budget through the parliament, because on one side it is accused of over spending, and on the other of under spending on important services.
As this goes on, the Socialist Party loses support and public opinion continues to polarise. The exception is Ciudadanos, which can parade itself as the saviour of the middle ground, through the generous monetary donations and other support from the wealthiest Spaniards and big business.
Political crisis is intensifying and the battle shaping up is between the forces that a moving towards fascism and those who stand against them. There is a lot at stake.