When Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s Vox party, was asked to explain its recent success, he said it was because it was “in step with what millions of Spaniards think.” Vox has been condemned as far-right and populist, anti-immigration and anti-Islam. (Gee, now where have we heard THAT before?)
BBC (h/t Maria J) But the 42-year-old Basque says instead it “defends the constitutional order, constitutional reform in some areas, the unity of Spain and centralisation of the state, and wants immigration to be brought under control”.
The party proposes to “Make Spain great again” and critics have described its ideology as a far right racist, nationalist throwback to Francisco Franco.
Vox’s leaders reject the far-right label, insisting it is a party of “extreme necessity” rather than extremism and its overall support for Spain’s membership of the EU differentiates it from many populist and far-right movements across Europe.
Many Vox policies, particularly on immigration, and its frequently voiced hostility to Islam, have drawn comparisons with far-right and populist parties elsewhere in Europe.
For a long time after its foundation in 2014, Vox struggled to make an impact on the Spanish political landscape. But ever since it filled a Madrid sports centre with 10,000 supporters last month, the party has been taken much more seriously.
A Jesuit school which had agreed to host the Vox rally in Valencia changed its mind, apparently concerned at the party’s reputation, causing the event to be moved elsewhere.
In the past few months and years, Vox has taken part in several meetings with Marine Le Pen’s French Rassemblement National (formerly known as National Front) and other parties in theEurope of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group.