A little over a year ago, the far-right party Vox entered a regional government in Spain for the first time, a move it hopes to replicate in other parts of the country after regional elections on May 28.
The Castilla y León region has been a “pilot” test for Vox, which in 2019 became the third force in the Spanish Parliament, repeats the head of the party, Santiago Abascal, for whom it is “an example of the alternative that it needs Spain”.
Just as it happened in that mostly rural region north of Madrid, Vox could be essential for the Popular Party (PP, right), the main opposition formation to the government of the socialist Pedro Sánchez, to achieve a governmental majority in half of the twelve regions who will renew their parliaments on May 28.
An equally likely scenario at the national level if the PP wins the legislative elections at the end of the year, since it would need Vox deputies to remove Sánchez from power.
Coalition with the pp
Since it entered the regional government of Castilla y León in a coalition with the PP in March 2022, an unprecedented event for the extreme right since the end of the Francisco Franco dictatorship in 1975, Vox has not ceased to cause controversy.
The party, which has vowed to put unions “in their place” if it comes to power in Spain, cut funding to the two biggest unions in the region, leading one of them, the UGT, to lay off last month to 40%. of your employees.
“We are immersed in a process of major economic crisis,” admitted to AFP in Valladolid, the region’s main city, Vicente Andrés, regional general secretary of the other union, Comisiones Obreras, which is also preparing layoffs.
fear of kissing
Vox also irritated the LGBT community by refusing to allow the regional parliament, as was the case before it entered the government, to be illuminated with the colors of the rainbow during the pride festival. An otherwise uncontroversial issue in Spain, one of the first countries to authorize same-sex marriage, in 2005.
Its regional leader, the Castilian-Leon vice president, Juan García-Gallardo, a 32-year-old lawyer, charged against a law approved in February by the Spanish Parliament that allows gender self-determination, stating that women would be “forced to share changing rooms with men hairy in municipal swimming pools”.
LGBT people feel “much more insecure” in Castilla y León since Vox is in power, said Yolanda Rodríguez, regional head of the Fundación Triángulo LGBT rights association.
“There are people who are afraid to go holding hands (on the street), who are afraid to go in and kiss each other” in a bar, he added.
However, Vox’s most controversial initiative, inspired by Viktor Orban’s Hungary, was announced in January: forcing doctors to propose to women who want an abortion to listen to their child’s heartbeat and see a video of the fetus.
The proposal was condemned from multiple sectors in a Spain that decriminalized abortion in 1985 and legalized it in 2010, and the president of Castilla León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, of the PP, paralyzed it.
This is an example of the problem that joining forces with the extreme right can mean for the PP, with positions not necessarily shared by a majority of voters.
Relying on Vox “makes it more difficult for the PP to seduce centrist voters,” estimated Antonio Barroso, an analyst with the Teneo cabinet. And at the same time “it makes it easier for Sánchez to attack the PP by claiming that he wants to lead the country towards the extreme right,” he said.
In the El Campillo market in Valladolid, the balance is not unanimous.
Those of Vox “make a lot of noise, but I see few results,” estimated Nuria Pérez Pardo, a 43-year-old nursery worker in line to buy fish.
Francisco Arairo, a 67-year-old retiree, said that he appreciated that Vox deals with “issues that other parties avoid”, although he continues to consider that in the PP “they seem more serious and realistic”.