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With the appointment of a socialist Prime Minister last year, Spain saw an immediate increase in migrant numbers. Not only did their numbers rapidly increase across the Straits of Gibraltar, but they also increased at the borders of Spain’s African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla. This led to violent clashes, with dozens of police officers being injured, as well as damaged border fences that had to be rapidly repaired.
Since the death of Franco, the Iberian nation has pivoted between centre-right and centre-left parties continuously, until now. Last month a new populist party, named Vox, was catapulted into the public eye during local elections held in Andalusia. They surprisingly managed to gain 12 seats in the regional parliament, and have become very vocal ever since.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez commented on the result by stating that: ‘My government will carry on with its pro-European renovation project for Spain’. He put on a brave face, but in reality since then he has come under increasing pressure. The migrant crisis across the Straits of Gibraltar is still intensifying, with Vox voters in Andalusia bearing the brunt of it.
Vox was founded in December 2013, and for nearly 5 years struggled to gain any traction. However in October 2018, the party managed to attract a crowd of 9,000 people to a rally in Madrid, and since then it has grown considerably. Pollster Metroscopia put the party at 5% of voting intentions – equivalent to roughly a million votes – and although this seems small, it does give hope for the future.
Vox has also got involved in numerous other issues recently, including Catalonian independence and radical feminism. Vox is adamantly pro-union, and has argued that other Spanish parties have not gone far enough in prosecuting secessionists in Catalonia. Last week the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal, also threatened to block the formation of a regional government in Andalusia unless ‘supremacist feminism’ was combated. The Popular Party are reportedly changing planned gender violence legislation, which is designed as a compromise with Abascal, in hopes of appeasing him.
Santiago Abascal himself is a former member of the Basque Parliament and an environmentalist, with his family having a history of being involved in regional politics. Vox’s Secretary-General (2nd in command) is Javier Ortega Smith, who holds dual Spanish and Argentine citizenship. He is a lawyer and a former member of Spain’s Special Forces, and has consistently argued that Spain’s history is ‘linked to the sword and the cross’.
With populist parties and movements emerging across the wider Western World, it was only inevitable that Spain would get its own version sooner or later. No doubt troubles and trials will lay ahead for them, something which President Donald Trump and other populists have already gone through. However with their slogan ‘Make Spain Great Again’, Vox will surely prosper in a time of mass immigration, violent crime and left-wing tyranny.