How does one explain Vox’s rise in popularity? As is the case in many instances when far-right groups rise to power, the answer lies amid economic turmoil.

In the recent regional parliamentary elections for the autonomous community of Andalucía, Vox, a far-right political party with controversial views on women’s rights and immigration, won a surprising 12 parliamentary seats. Its win makes it the first far-right group to emerge from elections victorious since the abdication of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

But what exactly does this mean for Andalucía and Spain as a whole? Could this be the first sign the country is going to reverse its current political trajectory and return to the ultra-rightist politics it left behind in the mid-70s?

How Far-Right is Vox?

According to its website, some of Vox’s main policy goals include immediate suspension of Catalonian autonomy, support of family values through legislation, fighting fundamentalist strains of Islam through deportation, blocking Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and limiting immigration, among others.

A strong opposition to Catalan autonomy is one of the main tenets of Vox’s party line, and the suppression of Catalan politics is so important to the politicians who make up Vox that it is the first promise of its electoral program.

Vox’s emphasis on the preservation of traditional family values corresponds to its ideas regarding elements of Spanish culture that the Spanish general public is beginning to frown upon and turn against, such as bullfighting and Spain’s imperialist colonial legacy.

One can read into Vox’s dedication to upholding the remnants of a bygone traditionalist era as support of an outdated and prejudiced past based on antiquated ideas. Vox’s nostalgia for traditionalism is akin to Donald Trump’s promise to “make America great again.” In fact, Vox is even campaigning with the slogan, “It’s Time to Make Spain Great Again.”

However, Vox has failed to achieve the same populist momentum as Trump’s campaign and has a support base consisting almost entirely of wealthy white conservatives, indicating that the general public is unwilling to accept allusions to fallen empires and their past grandeur.

A Vox slogan whose translation is literally “It’s time to make Spain great again.”

What Does Vox’s Win Mean For Spain?

When asked whether the Spanish general public should be concerned about Vox’s electoral gains, Beatriz Serrano, a high school English teacher in Madrid, replied that “I think people should think about the changes that have been produced in Spanish politics in the last few years. They shouldn’t necessarily be worried because it is only a small change, but Spain is beginning to show similar political tendencies to other countries where right-wing parties have triumphed in recent years and people should be conscious about the possible consequences.”

Serrano is right that this is only a small victory for Vox, and the seats they gained in Andalucía are not likely to have any really drastic effect on Spanish politics at large. The ruling party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espa­nol or Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party) still maintains tenuous control of the government and managed to win the elections in Andalucía, though the 33 parliamentary seats they won placed them far short of the 55 needed to command a majority.

Making matters even worse for PSOE is the fact that the right-wing Ciudadanos party won 21 seats while the even more conservative PP (People’s Party) won 26. If Vox, Ciudadanos and PP were to join forces and form a coalition government, it would give the far right the upper hand in Andalucían politics. The 59 seats held by conservative politicians would not only exceed the number of seats held by members of PSOE but also be more than enough to secure a majority, though only by four seats.

As of now both mainstream conservative parties have rejected many of Vox’s more extremist economic ideas, but the recent collaboration between PP and Ciudadanos in the creation of an economic program for Andalucía proves that PSOE’s control over government affairs in Andalucía has come to an end.

A Struggling Economy Creates Room For Vox

How does one explain Vox’s rise in popularity? As is the case in many instances when far-right groups rise to power, the answer lies amid economic turmoil.

It’s no secret that Spain’s economy is facing numerous problems, and with the unemployment rate at 14.55 percent many people have succumbed to hate-mongering and easy answers that political parties like Vox offer. Unable to find viable solutions to their economic problems, many people in Spain have begun to blame the immigrant population for the lack of jobs and low wages, a tendency that Vox has been all too willing to exploit.

Serrano says, “The main reason for Vox’s rise in popularity is the economic recession. I think this is something that is happening in different countries because they want to protect their privileges. Politics are being radicalized to close borders.”

The economy in Spain is improving, and unemployment rates have steadily dropped, but there is still a great deal of financial insecurity and fear that could be easily manipulated by groups such as Vox.

Until recently it seemed as if Spain would resist succumbing to the tide of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments that has swept through Europe, but Vox’s recent electoral victory proves this is not the case. As other regional elections approach in the coming year, it will be up to the Spanish people to decide whether their country will continue its path of liberal democracy or reverse trajectories and return to authoritarian, conservative rule.

 

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