23 de junio de 2021

The radical right populist Vox and the end of Spain’s exceptionalism

Por Lisa Zanotti

Vox is the new Spanish populist radical right party, and the third-largest party in the country. Back when it was founded in 2013, however, Vox failed to garner much support. In the Spanish general elections of 2015 and 2016, it attracted only 0.2% of the vote.

Vox’s period in the electoral wilderness came to an end in 2018. In that year’s regional elections in Andalusia (Spain’s most populous region), the party took home some 11% of the popular vote. Today, Vox boasts 52 MPs in the Spanish Congress, three senators, four members of the European Parliament, 55 regional parliamentarians, 526 local councillors, and five mayors. Vox plays an important ‘kingmaker’ role, and has been an important external supporter of several regional and local governments.

Where other parties of a radical and extreme right flavour previously failed, Vox has succeeded. In so doing, it brings to an end Spain’s exceptional status as a country free of the populist radical right.

How did Spain get here?

It might be said that Vox was born either at the wrong time or in the wrong place. In late 2013, the winds of change sweeping through Europe’s party systems had not yet reached Spain. On the contrary, these were the years in which the mainstream right-wing People’s Party (PP), was at the peak of its powers. Between 2014 and 2017, Vox did not even attempt to run in eight of the 24 electoral contests. Where it did, it attracted only marginal support.

While a window of opportunity for new parties did open, leading to rise of the populist left-wing Unidas Podemos [United We Can] and the self-styled liberals Ciudadanos [Citizens], structures were not in place for a far-right party to make inroads into the evolving party system.


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