Is Spain’s far-right Vox party dangerous?

Spanish Prime Minister and leader of the Socialist Party (PSOE) Pedro Sanchez has called for a national election to be held on Sunday, April 28.

So as Spaniards prepare to go to the polls we decided to take a look at VOX a new political party with far-right views.

Following recent municipal elections in Andalusia that saw VOX take 12 seats after 400,000 people voted for their party, VOX now has the mainstream parties running scared.

Before the vote, it was assumed that Spain was immune from the resurgence of far-right political parties in Europe, such as für Deutschland in Germany or Italy’s League party.

Political scientist Eduard Güell believes that several factors are behind the swing to the right including the question over Catalan independence.

Despite beginning over 18 months ago, there is still no legal or political solution in sight and while the former ruling conservative party (PP) took an aggressive approach in combating the Catalans, Pedro Sanchez and the socialist are open to dialogue.

“All signs indicate that Vox has come to stay,” Güell said. In his opinion, “one cannot understand how the far-right has erupted in Spain without understanding the European and international perspective and how these populist far-right parties communicate and feed off each other.”

VOX’s manifesto includes:

  1. Scrapping the current system of autonomous regions and forming a single government-run from Madrid.
  2. Introduce a programme about national identity and what it means to be Spanish.
  3. Repeal the gender violence law and replace it with a family law that covers everyone.
  4. No to immigration! Deport illegal immigrants and have those that arrive legally made to integrate into society and accept Spanish values
  5. Control the purse strings by cutting back on what it sees as wasteful spending.
  6. One single system to oversee education and healthcare. Introduce mandatory Spanish language exams at the end of each school year.
  7. Taxes! VOX is proposing a single universal rate of 21% above earnings of 12,000€ and a 3,000€ deduction for every child or dependent relative in the household. VOX also wants to lower the social security contributions for self-employed workers.
  8. Shut down fundamentalist mosques and regain control of all borders.
  9. Oppose Turkey joining the European Union.
  10. Take back Gibraltar and reclaim Spain’s place in the world that its economy and culture deserve.

When asked recently about the rise in populism and a resurgence of the far right, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said:

“Most of us were looking toward a system that had been established after World War II — democratic governments, a globalized economy that would gradually bring the world together — and thought it was remarkably stable.

But the situation has gotten more complicated. A lot of people have benefited from globalization, but it has huge downsides. It’s faceless, and people want to know their identity, want to be connected to some religious or ethnic or national group.

Identity is fine, but if my identity makes me hate your identity, then it becomes very dangerous and it falls into hypernationalism. Suddenly, groups are pitted against each other or scapegoated and all of political life becomes a tribalized conflict. And we can see this happening in a number of places. Viktor Orbán’s embrace of ethnic purity in Hungary is a good example of this.

The Hungarian Guard

The other major factor is technology, which has incredible advantages, but it’s also desegregated voices and made it harder to take political action because individuals are sucked into echo chambers. Weirdly enough, this has managed to make us more tribal and more fragmented at the same time.

So there are just a lot of forces coming together and creating an atmosphere of anger, and people have no idea what the solutions are, or if there are any solutions. Then some strongman comes along and says, I have the answers, I can fix everything.  And this is when you get fascism”.

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