by Peter Franklin
Monday, 21
February 2022
Spotted
07:15

Shock poll rocks Spanish politics

Vox is now the second most popular party in Spain
by Peter Franklin
Vox has overtaken PP as the most popular Right-wing party

Last week, Vox’s Right-wing populist party made headlines after outperforming expectations in a regional election. As the dust settled, there were questions as to what this might mean for the state of play nationally.

We didn’t have to wait long to find out. Over the weekend, a shock poll showed Vox surging into second place — ahead of the Partido Popular (PP), the mainstream party of the Right. The trend was confirmed in a second poll, which also shows Vox overtaking the PP. 

Vox is a relative newcomer. Formed as a split from the PP in 2013, it made little impact in the 2015 and 2016 general elections. But in 2019 it broke the mould of modern Spanish politics — taking 10% of the vote in the first of the two general elections that year and 15% in the second. The latest polls put the party’s vote share at over 20%. 

Though concerns over immigration and austerity played their part, the most important factor was specific to Spain: the constitutional crisis of 2017-18, which followed the attempt of the Catalan government to hold an independence referendum. Vox positioned itself as the party of hardline anti-separatism — opposing even the partial autonomy granted to Catalonia and other regions. 

The latest surge in Vox support comes at the expense of the Partido Popular. The PP is currently riven by a bitter internal dispute between its national leadership and its rising star, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the charismatic president of the Madrid region. 

Unless this is resolved, the PP risks sharing the fate of its French and Italian sister parties. In France, the only reason why the conservative presidential candidate, Valérie Pécresse, has a chance of making it through to the second round is that the populist vote is evenly split between Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour. Meanwhile in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is now a bit-player in a Right-wing electoral bloc dominated by populists. 

Back in Spain, the PP faces a dilemma as to whether to accept Vox as a formal coalition partner. The question has already sharpened internal divisions — but, so far, it’s been debated on the assumption that Vox would be the junior partner. As Angela Merkel is reported to have told David Cameron, the little party in a coalition always gets smashed.

But if current trends continue, Vox would be the senior party in a Right-wing Spanish government. Therefore the question facing the PP may become much harder: not whether they rely upon the support of the Vox leader, Santiago Abascal, but whether they make him their country’s Prime Minister.

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Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
3 months ago

……..and the left, centre left and centre right will wail and gnash their teeth and blame everyone but themselves as to why there is this turn to ‘populist’ figures and parties.
And, they, dare to call the electorate ‘stupid’ and ‘bigoted’. How stupid and bigoted can somebody be !

James Joyce
James Joyce
3 months ago

Viva Espania!
Just because a party in 2022 is “right wing” does not mean it is a return to dictatorship. Dictatorships these days are often of the left.
New Zealand and Canada come to mind…..

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

spot on…I have given up (admittedly hardly a riveting argument) on Left and Right as meaning anything…I think Davod Goodhart’s *Anywhere’s and Somewhere’s* is a far better idea for understanding precisely what’s going on when self satisfied chattering class types of *the left* start persecuting workers because they’re not the correct sort of *left*

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
3 months ago

Once again, I am astonished to see that the UnHerd’s national political journalists fail to appreciate the political moment of covidism.
Certainly concerns over immigration “play their part” in the Spanish political discourse, as elsewhere in Europe. And yes, the Catalonia issue is clearly on many people’s minds.
But it is at least worth noting that VOX was the only party to oppose Spain’s draconian lockdowns and vaccine passport requirements. I know if I were Spanish they would have my full support in this election.
Why no discussion of this?

Andrea Re
Andrea Re
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I wonder how Fratelli d’Italia will fare as they share many of the traits you mention with Vox.

Last edited 3 months ago by Andrea Re
Tom Gallagher
Tom Gallagher
3 months ago

Refreshing to find that Peter Franklin is content to describe the newly second place Vox Party in Spain as ‘populist’ rather than extreme this or extreme that. It’s conservatism is much like that of centre-right parties of 20th century New Zealand & Canada, places now controlled by left-wing extremists.
The academic Miguel Quintana Paz writes sense about Vox, such as here.https://theobjective.com/elsubjetivo/opinion/2022-02-17/frenar-vox-pasos/
twitter @QuintanaPaz

Tom Gallagher
Tom Gallagher
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom Gallagher

MQP recently tweeted that the leader of the established conservative party Pablo Casado is now being hailed by the left press for his pragmatism in holding the line against robust conservatism. Luckily, the rank-and-file of the Popular Party want someone unwilling to make backroom deals with the Socialists who acts and speak like a conservative and is ready to match the Spanish left by working for unity on the democratically-minded Spanish right.

Keith Jefferson
Keith Jefferson
3 months ago

This is the second article on Unherd in just over a week about Vox. The first described them as far right, which received some pushback in the comments. This article describes them as right wing populist, but still compares them with Le Pen et al, with the undertone that they are somehow problematic and pose a threat. We can get this sort of analysis from the mainstream media, but I would have expected something a little more from Unherd. If the surge in support for Vox really is problematic, then the reasons should be spelt out. And if the surge in support signifies a wider trend, then this needs some analysis. Otherwise, the article just comes across as “OMG! These people are challenging the accepted political establishment!”.