Andalusian Elections 2018 Analysis

          Andalusia, a region in southern Spain, held their elections on December 2nd, 2018, so four days ago. What happened in the elections surprised many commentators. A far right-wing party VOX became the first party of its type to win seats in a region of Spain since the end of the Phalangist Regime of Generalissimo Franco. Vox managed to win 12 seats out of 109 in Andalusia (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/03/spain-far-right-vox-party-wins-seats-in-andalucia-for-first-time-since-franco)

               So, what is this party VOX? What does it stand for? As I mentioned earlier, it is considered a far-right party. But, to truly understand it, one must understand the political history behind it.

               Historically there have been two major parties in Spain: the People’s Party (PP) (a center-right party) and the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE) (a center-left party). PSOE traditionally dominated in Andalusia (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/03/spain-far-right-vox-party-wins-seats-in-andalucia-for-first-time-since-franco). In recently years to other parties have formed: Citizens (C’s)(center to center-right) and Podemos (means We Can in Spanish)(leftwing; think Bernie Sanders). Note: the author of this blog has very similar political leanings to those found in Podemos. To understand the rise of the two parties, and of VOX, you have to consider the internal divides within Spain.

               Spain has many different regions, some of which speak different languages than Spanish. These include Galicia (north of Portugal), Basque Country (in the Pyrenees on the border with France), and the largest one, Catalonia (located in the northwest with its capital being Barcelona). Catalonia declared independence in October 27, 2017, but the members of government who performed this act of what the Spanish consider rebellion were either arrested or fled into exile (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41871476). This sudden expansion of activity from the Catalan independence movement resulted much political division.

               The PP government led by Prime Minster Mariano Rajoy (including support from C’s, which had already seen growth in reaction to the growth in the Catalan independence movement prior to the actual declaration) was very unstable and ended up collapsing after a number of politicians within the party were convicted in the Gürtel case. Prime Minster Rajoy failed a vote of no confidence and was removed (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/01/world/europe/spain-mariano-rajoy-no-confidence.html). His government was replaced by the current one, which is led by Prime Minster Pedro Sanchez of PSOE, with support from Podemos and its allies.

               The rise of Podemos was prompted by two things: the economic collapse where Spain suffered a terrible recession and severe austerity measures and the rise of the Catalonian independence movement, which Podemos supports. The combination of these two left Podemos as the third largest party in Spain.

               Now back to the election results in Andalusia. While C’s, PP, and PSOE all oppose Catalan independence, there is a perception by some Spanish nationalists that they are not doing enough. VOX, however, proposes extreme measures to deal with this situation, including the complete removal of power from the Autonomous Regions that Spain has set up to allow the minorities some form of self-governance. This hardline position attracted attention to the party, which they expanded upon by adopting anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant stances popular in the European far-right (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/03/far-right-success-in-andalucia-reflects-spains-fragmented-politics). This large gain in Andalusia, the heartland of Spanish leftism outside of Catalonia, suggest even larger gains in more conservative areas. This could spell doom to the current left-wing government, as well as represent the continuing growth of the far-right, which has now punctured areas like Spain that have seemed to been immune until recently. 

 

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