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POLITICS

‘Socialists want to get rid of Spain’s monarchy’: Vox

Spain's far-right party Vox launched its election campaign Sunday with an all-out attack on Pedro Sanchez's ruling socialists ahead of the November 10 parliamentary polls.

'Socialists want to get rid of Spain's monarchy': Vox
Santiago Abascal meeting Spain's King Felipe VI in September. Photo: AFP

Party leader Santiago Abascal denounced the outgoing government in a speech to 12,000 supporters at a rally in Madrid.

He picked up on the government's controversial plans to remove the remains of the dictator Francisco Franco from a grandiose mausoleum near Madrid.

“The remains of General Franco are only an excuse,” he said of the controversy.

“The aim is to rewrite history, the aim is to delegitimise the monarchy and the aim is to topple (King) Felipe VI.”

The legacy of Franco, who ruled with an iron fist following the end of Spain's 1936-39 civil war, still divides Spain today.

Abascal also attacked the conservative Popular Party and the liberal Ciudadanos, who he said were ready to ally with the socialists to end the political impasse.

Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera on Saturday appeared to shift his position by saying he would consider helping Sanchez's socialists back into power after the next elections.

Popular Party leader Pablo Casado has raised the possibility of a grand coalition including the socialists if his party wins the elections, which according the latest polls seems unlikely.

The new elections, only months after April polls, have been called because Sanchez's socialists, though Spain's single largest party, were unable to negotiate a ruling coalition with rival parties.

Practically unknown last year, Vox in April became the first party to figure as a far-right political force since Franco's death in 1975.

The latest polls put Vox at around 10 percent, similar to the level that won them 24 out of 350 seats in April.

Shortly before Vox's Madrid rally, four members of the feminist activist group Femen chained themselves to the venue, the Palacio Vistalegre, in protest, denouncing Vox as fascists.

November's parliamentary elections will be the fourth in four years.

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SPANISH POLITICS

What the PP’s landslide win in Andalusia means for Spain’s ruling Socialists

A resounding win by Spain's conservative Popular Party in a weekend regional election in Andalusia appears to have boosted its chances in national elections next year and weakened Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

What the PP's landslide win in Andalusia means for Spain's ruling Socialists

The Popular Party (PP) secured 58 seats in Sunday’s election in Spain’s most populous region — three more than the 55 needed for an absolute majority. That constitutes its best-ever result in the longstanding Socialist stronghold.

The Socialists won 30 seats, their worst-ever result in Andalusia. It governed there without interruption between 1982 and 2018, when it was ousted from power by a coalition between the PP and centre-right Ciudadanos.

This was the Socialists’ third consecutive regional election loss to the PP after votes in Madrid in May 2021 and Castilla y Leon in February.

Sanchez’s government has been struggling to deal with the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has fuelled inflation worldwide, especially through increasing energy prices.

Socialist party officials argued the results of a regional election “can’t be extrapolated” nationally.

But in an editorial, centre-left daily El Pais said no one can deny the gulf in the election scores obtained between the two parties in two of Spain’s most populated regions — Andalusia and Madrid.

This was “more than just a stumble”, it argued.

“This may be a symptom of a change in the political cycle” at the national level, it added. The conservative daily ABC took a similar line.

‘Worn down’

Pablo Simon, political science professor at the Carlos III University, said this “new cycle” in which “the right is stronger” began when the PP won a landslide in a regional election in Madrid in May 2021.

It could culminate with the PP coming out on top in the next national election expected at the end of 2023, he added.

But Cristina Monge, a political scientist at the University of Zaragoza, took a more cautious line.

“The government is worn down after four difficult years due to the pandemic” and the war in Ukraine, which has fuelled inflation, she said.

She refused to “draw a parallel” between Andalusia and Spain, arguing “there is still a lot of time” before the next national election.

Sanchez come to power in June 2018 after former PP prime minister Mariano Rajoy was voted out of office in a no-confidence motion triggered by a long-running corruption scandal.

The PP then suffered its worst-ever results in the next general election in 2019, which the Socialists won.

Sunday’s election was the first since veteran politician Alberto Núñez Feijóo, a moderate, took over as leader of the PP from Pablo Casado following a period of internal party turbulence.

Partido Popular (PP) candidate for the Andalusian regional election Juanma Moreno greets supporters during a meeting following the Andalusian regional elections, in Seville on June 19, 2022. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

‘Packing his bags’

“People are fed up with Sanchez,” the PP’s popular regional leader of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, said Monday.

“If national elections had been held yesterday, the result would have been the same and today he would be packing his bags,” she added.

Up until now, the far-right Vox party had supported the PP in Andalusia but from outside government.

This time around however, it had said its support would be conditional on getting a share of the government of the southern region.

But the PP’s commanding victory in Andalusia means that is now moot: it no longer has to rely on far-right party Vox to govern.

At the national level, it could be a different story however, said Pablo Simon.

A PP government nationally that did not rely on Vox would be “impossible” due to the fragmentation of parliament, which has several regional and separatist parties.

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