Spain: far-right Vox about to enter the regional government of Castilla y León
Spain’s far-right Vox party is set to enter the regional government of Castilla y León after winning its best result in regional elections on February 13. The ruling right-wing People’s Party (PP) increased its total number of seats by two but failed to secure a parliamentary majority.
Vox won 17.6% of the vote and 13 seats, a dramatic increase from its 5.5% and one seat in the 2019 elections. While the PP elected 31 representatives to the 81-seat parliament – the most of all parties – his vote share fell slightly from 31.5% to 31.4%. It is the party’s worst electoral result in Castile and León, historically a stronghold of the PP.
The Socialist Party (PSOE) won 30.1% of the vote and 28 seats, seven fewer than in 2019. The right-wing Citizens party, which had governed in coalition with the PP since 2019, fell from 12 representatives to one Alone. The “left populist” Podemos also won a single seat. The regional parties Soria ¡Ya! (Soria Now!), the Leonese Popular Union and For Ávila together won seven seats.
The vote for Vox in the Castilla y León elections is another stern warning to the working class of the neo-fascist danger in Spain. Forty-four years after the 1978 transition from the fascist regime established by Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War, the far right is once again poised to take power in parts of Spain.
In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, far-right officers opposed to public health measures issued calls for a coup and mass murder, which the PSOE-Podemos government downplayed. . In leaked WhatsApp conversations, far-right generals, backed by Vox, call for the killing of “26 million” Spaniards – 55% of Spain’s population – whom they consider unwinnable to fascism.
Snap elections in Castile and León were called after PP regional president Alfonso Fernández Mañueco expelled citizens from his government in December, saying he could no longer rely on their loyalty.
Tensions had been mounting within the PP-Citizens government for months over tactical differences over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and difficulties in passing the PP’s budget. The snap elections were precipitated by a no-confidence motion tabled by the PSOE opposition in March 2021. Although the motion was defeated, Citizen MP Maria Montero defected from the party ahead of the vote, leaving the PP- Citizens a member short of an absolute. majority.
Mañueco had hoped to win enough votes to govern without the citizens, with opinion polls initially predicting a comfortable victory for the PP. But with citizens collapsing and the PP’s disappointing results, Mañueco will likely be forced to rely on Vox votes to form a government and pass legislation. It would be the first time Vox entered a regional government.
While Vox previously supported the regional administrations of the PP from outside the government, Vox leader Santiago Abascal demanded that the PP enter into a coalition with his party in Castile and León, stating that Mañueco would not get Vox support “for free”.
“Vox has the right and the duty to form a government in Castilla y León,” Abascal said after the elections. “We succeeded in saving the region from the threat of socialists and communists,” he continued. Abascal then demanded that Vox’s lead candidate in the region, Juan García-Gallardo, be named regional vice president.
Abascal then backtracked somewhat, saying: “The request for vice-presidency in Castile and León was just a comment. We haven’t asked for anything formally yet. However, he has always conditioned Vox’s support on their entry into government, saying: “If the citizens got 14% of the vote in the last legislature and we got 17.6%, we should get the same or more than citizens. The citizen members had held four ministries and the post of vice-president in the last government.
García-Gallardo also ruled out Vox refraining from tacitly supporting a minority PP government, saying, “We’re not going to abstain and we’re going to make our votes count.”
Mañueco initially sought to avoid forming a coalition, stating that he wanted to form a “solo government” based on informal pacts with other parties. “We are not going to repeat the elections,” he said, “and there will be a strong and stable government that will come out of a parliamentary agreement.” Initially, without specifically ruling out an alliance with Vox, he claimed he preferred to avoid it, stating, “I don’t have any red lines, but I have great principles.”
However, opportunism has dictated new “principles” to Mañueco in recent days, and current reports indicate that he and the PP are making rapid progress in talks with Vox on a government alliance. There is “good harmony” between the PP and Vox in the talks, although “the issue of ministerial portfolios has not yet been discussed”, a PP source said. The Diarywho said it’s increasingly likely that Vox will get the regional vice president.
Other PP leaders have not hesitated to ally themselves with Vox, with Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso telling a press conference last Tuesday: “We shouldn’t worry about what the left thinks of our agreements. She explicitly approved entering into a coalition with Vox during the Madrid election campaign.
For its part, the PSOE opened the door to an agreement with the PP, with PSOE Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declaring that his party could abstain in an investiture vote to allow the PP to form a minority government without Vox.
“If the [PP] explains that the far right is a danger to democracy,” Sánchez said, “maybe we could reach an agreement; if they explain that it is necessary to place a sanitary cordon around those who question the rights and freedoms of women and LGBTI people, maybe we can find an agreement. But first they have to do one thing: ask everyone who has made agreements with the extreme right in Madrid and outside Madrid to break these agreements.
The PP currently has agreements with Vox in Andalusia, Murcia and Madrid, which makes it unlikely that they will sever ties with the far-right party, as they could then lose control of all those governments.
The elections in Castile and León are significant especially since they are widely seen as a blow to the national legislative elections, which must be held before December 2023.
An opinion poll conducted in mid-February by Electomania predicted that Vox could become the second-largest party in the 2023 elections, after the PSOE. He suggested that Vox could win up to 22.1% of the vote and 84 seats, with the PP coming third with 83 seats and 21.7% of the vote. While the PSOE may be able to form an unstable coalition relying on Podemos and a host of regional parties, a national Vox-PP government remains a distinct possibility.
No significant opposition to the rise of this fascist party will come from the PSOE and the ruling Podemos party and their various political satellites. They downplayed the threat posed by the far right and agreed to virtually every demand Vox made of them, from its refusal to implement lockdowns to combat the pandemic to its brutal crackdown on refugees.
The only way to fight the rise of the far right in Spain and across Europe is for the working class to fight on the basis of its own party and program. This requires a break with the PSOE and Podemos, as part of a struggle for socialism in Spain and internationally.