The far-right Spanish political party Vox has agreed to support a new, rightwing Andalucían regional government after dropping its demands for the expulsion of 52,000 “illegal immigrants” and the repeal of laws on domestic violence and gender equality.
Vox, which secured its first parliamentary seats in December’s Andalucían election, had also called for Spain’s autonomous regional governments to surrender the responsibilities for education, health and public order that they were handed after the end of the Franco dictatorship.
But on Wednesday evening the far-right party said it would support a coalition between the conservative People’s party (PP) and the centre-right Citizens party that is intended to end 36 years of Socialist party rule in the southern Spanish region.
Although Vox had described its 19 proposals as “very reasonable”, they were dismissed by the PP as “unacceptable nonsense”. One senior party member suggested: “Vox aren’t all there.”
In a joint statement, the PP and Vox said the new regional government, led by the PP’s Juanma Moreno, would focus on “creating proper jobs” and fighting corruption.
Vox was formed by disgruntled PP members five years ago and made a major breakthrough in December’s regional election, winning 12 seats with 11% of the vote and becoming the first far-right party to win representation since Spain returned to democracy after Francisco Franco’s death.
Also among its 19 proposals were laws to “protect” bullfighting, flamenco and Holy Week celebrations, and a request that Andalucía’s regional day be changed to commemorate the 1492 conclusion of the Christian reconquest of Spain seven centuries after the first Moorish armies arrived.
Its leader, Santiago Abascal, has raged against what he calls “supremacist feminism and gender totalitarianism”, and the party has complained that existing domestic violence laws are unfairly weighted against men.
Vox’s rise has pushed the PP, led by Pablo Casado, further to the right. While it has abandoned its more radical demands in Andalucía, the upstart party has now further revealed its ability to shape the political debate and win symbolic concessions from the mainstream right.
The EU and the French government both expressed concerns this week over the rhetoric and manoeuvrings since December’s election.
The European commission’s chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, declined to comment on the formation of the regional government, but said: “For us, fundamental rights, parity, and equality between men and women remain an absolute political priority.”
France’s minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, was more explicit. Although France’s governing party, La République En Marche, is aligned with the Citizens party, Loiseau warned against striking any deals with Vox.
“As a member of a government and a party … that defeated the far-right to win a general election, you’ll understand why I say that there can be no deals with the far-right,” she told the Spanish radio network Cadena Ser on Tuesday.
“I’ve listened to the initial statement from Vox representatives, saying they want to set back women’s rights. They are very worrying and I think everything possible must be done to fight this extremism.”
The socialist government of Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez said it regretted what it termed “the radicalisation of the PP and Citizens following their deal with the far-right”.
It took particular aim at the latter party, accusing it of of failing to heed the warnings of other European parties, adding: “Citizens has made Vox a principal actor in the government of the people of Andalucía. In the face of this drift towards sexism and xenophobia, the government of Pedro Sánchez will focus on improving the present and preparing Spain for the future – even if others insist on looking back towards the past.”
Women’s rights groups across Spain are planning action over the coming weeks to safeguard existing legislation and to protest against Vox’s demands.