Published: Mon, November 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Spain goes to the polls with far right tipped to make gains

Spain goes to the polls with far right tipped to make gains

That put an end to decades of dominance of the two main parties, the PP and the Socialists, in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

The big political shift came as right-wing voters flocked to Vox, which only had broken into Parliament in the spring for the first time. Party leader Santiago Abascal said Vox's success was "the greatest political feat seen in Spain".

The breakout stars of the election, meanwhile, are the national populist Vox party led by Santiago Abascal, which campaigned on a platform emphasising border securit, including building a wall to stop violent incursions into Spain's African cities of Ceuta and Melilla by illegal aliens hoping to reach European Union soil, and national unity, including proposals to outlaw parties seeking secession from the Spanish state.

The far-right Vox was seen as the biggest gainer, with GAD3 forecasting it to more than double its representation from the 24 seats with which it debuted in parliament in April.

The Catalan crisis has dominated the election campaign, with parties on the right - Vox, the PP and the centre-right Ciudadanos - taking a hardline anti-separatist stance.

After a fourth national ballot in as many years and the second in less than seven months, the left-wing Socialists held on as the leading power in the national Parliament.

Bonnie Field, a professor on Global Studies at Bentley University in California, called the political situation a "mess government-wise".

Spain, a country which returned to democracy after a near four-decade right-wing dictatorship under the late General Francisco Franco, used to take pride in claiming no far-right group had seats in the national parliament, unlike the rest of Europe.

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Spanish politics has become increasingly fragmented in recent years with the emergence of new parties.

The 84-year-old did not want to say which party got his vote at a polling station in Madrid's northern Hortaleza neighbourhood where Abascal lives. But she said she cast her ballot in hopes of stopping Vox. Still, it does not advocate a break from the EU in the very pro-EU Spain.

Oriol Bartomeus, another AUB political scientist, said the PP was "threatened by the rise of Vox, and as a result has much less incentive to join forces with the Socialists".

Spanish acting Prime Minister and Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez takes a selfie with a supporter during a campaign closing rally ahead of general election, in Barcelona, Spain November 8, 2019.

Positioning itself as vehemently anti-secessionist, it has berated the caretaker Socialist government for making deals with separatists to win their backing in parliament over the past year, and for failing to maintain order in Catalonia.

Less than a month ago, the Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to lengthy jail terms over their role in a failed 2017 independence bid, sparking days of angry street protests in Barcelona and other Catalan cities that sometimes turned violent. The ruling has triggered massive daily protests in Catalonia that left more than 500 people injured, roughly half of them police officers, and dozens arrested.

The Catalan issue promises to continue festering with three Catalan separatist parties winning a combined 23 seats Sunday.

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