Spain’s Far-Right Vox Party has been removed from pre-election debates after its inclusion was deemed to be in violation of electoral law.
Having never won more than 5% of votes in national elections, Spain’s Atresmedia network decided to invite the group to join debates off the back of a regional election victory last year and new exit polls which place the far-right party on a potential 10% share of the vote.
The decision was controversial with several other smaller parties also demanding inclusion based off their own previous election histories, the Spanish electoral commission stepping in to rule the original decision to include Vox was illegal.
The decision, despite the facts, had been portrayed as an attack on “free speech” by the far-right.
“It’s clear who calls the shots still in Spain: the separatists. Until April 28. Because a great victory for #LongLiveSpain will see those parties who wish to destroy our co-existence, constitution and homeland banned.”Vox Party
The move comes amidst a surge in support for Vox in line with recent gains for the far-right across Europe. Despite the memory of the Franco regime still fresh in many minds, Vox is expected to be central to a right-wing coalition attempt to oust socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez, the far-right polling at 10.7%, and the centre-right People’s Party at 20.1%.
Standing on a platform against Catalan independence, immigration, Islam, gay rights and feminism, Vox is pro-life, pro-Israel and support the return of Gibraltar to Spanish rule, despite the wishes of the people. Their platform is amongst the most hardline of the populist far-right surges across the continent.
On immigration, Vox call for the expulsion of all illegal immigrants and expulsion of all legal immigrants who commit a crime or repeat misdermenors. They also support the building of a wall around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa.
The shadow of Donald Trump looms large over Vox, with supporters regularly calling for Catalan independence leader Carles Puigdemont to be “locked up” and adopting the MAGA mantra for themselves, “make Spain great again”.
Key to the immediate future of Spanish politics is likely to be the liberal-centrist Ciudadanos. With the incumbent socialists polling at 29.2% and Ciudadanos polling at 15.5%, Ciudadanos are likely to hold the keys to power.
“Ciudadanos walks a very difficult line: it has to avoid getting too close to Vox because that would damage its centrist credentials, but it has to get enough votes to get into power. A coalition with Vox at the national level would create serious problems for the party.”Antonio Barroso, deputy director of research at Teneo
While the possible inclusion in a right-wing government would lend the far-right a huge platform in Spain and push the political sphere to the right, a strong socialist presence is hampering the advance of the party. Vox has gained most of its support from Ciudadanos and the People’s Party and not the working class base of the socialists, obtaining only 15% of its support from disaffected PSOE, United Left and Podemos supporters.