the euro zone

Double standards

Vox might be the new kid on the block in Spain, but there's something very familiar about its shameless double-standards. Because the far-right party gained twelve seats in the Andalusian parliament last December, it is now a beneficiary of just under €3 million of public funds. These are allocated to cover election expenses, the running of day-to-day parliamentary affairs and the salaries of its ministers in Andalucía. As Vox gears up to fight for a share of national power ahead of April 28th's general election, these generous subsidies couldn't have come at a better time.

You might be wondering though, if this is the same party that recently campaigned for a reduction in the amount of public funding received by workers' unions, business associations and, yes - political parties. Indeed it is!

As one of several demands it made of the Popular Party in exchange for backing in the Andalusian parliament last December, Vox requested cuts for subsidies to such groups, in some cases by as much as 75%.

The party is now the recipient of around €1.7 million for expenses incurred by last year's regional election, and every month each of its representatives in Andalucía receives a salary of over €3,000 and travelling expenses of up to €500. But Vox doesn't seem in a hurry to return this public money, nor has it offered to run its affairs on smaller subsidies.

With a general election just over a month away, the party claims that the allocation of public funds is no longer top of its priority list (funny, that). Now Vox's ministers are backed by a hefty chunk of taxpayers' money, they're able to develop and promote their flagship policies - on issues such as Catalonia and immigration - much more effectively. Just as well, then, that their proposals to slash funding for political parties didn't become legislation!

Regarding the Catalan problem and Vox's vehement opposition to secessionists, Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Borrell had some interesting things to say this week.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the former PSOE leader was right to argue that Vox and Catalan separatists are jointly responsible for a "systematic exacerbation of tension and conflict [in Spain], incited by people from both sides because that is what they live off".

Further polarising the county, said Borrell, is Ciudadanos' refusal to consider a coalition with the Socialists because of the latter's attempts to reason with Catalan secessionists. That's probably the only pairing that could secure a parliamentary majority at the end of next month, thus preventing Vox from taking a share of national power.

Unless such a coalition materialises, far-right politicians will take up position in Madrid as they have in Andalucía, aided by subsidies to which they are theoretically opposed.