Right-wing ‘Reconquista’? Anti-immigrant party enters parliament in Spain’s most populous region

Right-wing ‘Reconquista’? Anti-immigrant party enters parliament in Spain’s most populous region
The wave of right-wing resurgence that has flooded Europe following the refugee crisis has reached Spain. An upstart anti-immigrant party has entered the parliament in Spain’s Andalusia and might yet become a kingmaker.

Spain’s most populous region and one of its economic powerhouses, Andalusia held parliamentary elections this past weekend. Although the vote was technically won by the Socialists, who have governed the region for almost 40 years, it is the surprising success of the right-wing Vox party that made the headlines.

The upstart political force, founded in 2013, showed an impressive result, by winning twice as many votes than had been expected, securing 12 seats in the legislature. While most major parties taking part in the elections lost the backing of the voters, Vox was one of the few that enjoyed a significant boost in public support.

Founded by a breakaway group from the Spanish conservative People’s Party, Vox soon took an anti-Islam and anti-immigration stance. The party also harbors a Euroskeptic view, while opposing increased autonomy for Spanish regions, such as Catalonia.

Although Vox is the smallest faction in the Andalusian legislature, it might yet be able to decide the fate of the future ruling coalition and remove the Socialists from power. The left-leaning forces in the parliament do not have enough seats to form a governing majority. The People’s Party, which came second, might be able to muster the numbers, but only if they ally with the liberal Citizens Party and Vox.

The People’s Party regional leader Juan Manuel Moreno already made it clear he is ready to strike a deal with Vox, and said that he is open to any policy suggestions except for limiting the region’s autonomy.

“The red line [in the negotiations with Vox] is the Constitution,” he said, following the elections. The Citizens Party appeared to be less eager to join such a coalition but still said that it did not “rule out any scenario.”

The possibility of such a coalition has apparently become a source of concern for the Socialists.

“There has been a real setback for the left in Andalusia but the most serious thing is that the extreme right has entered this new electoral cycle in Spain and has entered the Andalusian parliament for the first time. This phenomenon, which has been taking place in the rest of Europe and the world, has now reached Spain,” said Susana Diaz, the Socialist party chief in Andalusia.

Vox itself loudly celebrated its success. “Reconquista of Spain … starts in Andalusia!” the party’s election campaign manager boldly proclaimed at a post-election party, as reported by the Spanish media.

Located in the south, Andalusia serves as Spain’s main gateway for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, and the success of Vox has become a sign of growing anti-migrant sentiment. The right-wingers were more successful in municipalities that hosted large numbers of non-European migrants, in large cities, and in particular in wealthy and middle-income neighborhoods, Spain’s El Pais reported, citing electoral statistics.

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According to the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), some 45,145 men, women and children have entered Spain through the western Mediterranean route through October 21, 2018. That is almost half of over 94,000 migrants who have entered Europe by sea this year from North Africa, AP reports.

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