No doubt many voters in Spain see another term of Pedro Sánchez as the safest of the two available options, for the simple reason that his Socialist-led coalition is a known quantity. Ironically that's a conservative stance at heart - i.e. it seeks to maintain, rather than alter, the status quo. But fears that Spain would revert to its fascist past if a PP-Vox coalition took his place are absurdly overblown and inaccurate.
It's misleading even to refer to Vox as 'far right', which has become the standard way of designating Pablo Abascal's party. Many of its policies are the same as the PP's. The "anti-immigration" characterisation, for example, is simplistic: Vox, like the PP and indeed like almost all Conservative parties across Europe, opposes illegal immigration and seeks to place greater controls on legal migration flows. That's not a radical or hateful policy, it's a sensible one. Sánchez, by contrast, has no discernible stance on this issue whatsoever, or at least no credible stance, which is causing real problems in the Canary Islands and Spain's north African territories.
Remember that Sánchez has been in partnership for four years with a radical-left party, many members of which claim to be Marxists or Communists. These are ideologies which have never come close to succeeding in practice. Rather, they have resulted in some of the grimmest and most oppressive regimes ever imposed on human beings. Has Spain become a Communist state as a result of Podemos members' professed belief in one or both of these philosophies? Of course not.
Yet there seems to be a suspicion that Spain is in danger of becoming "fascist" - in some watered-down sense of that term, presumably - if Vox acquires the same power that Podemos has had for the last term. This is the case even though Abascal, despite making some regrettably nostalgic references to Francoism, has never said that he favours any other form of government over democracy - or constitutional monarchy, in Spain's case. He hasn't suggested, for example, that we should give totalitarianism a go, that it gets a bad press but is a viable alternative to what we already have.
By no means do I "support" Vox, I want to make that clear. But I am calling for a sense of perspective. Sitting on Malaga's lovely Plaza de la Merced a few weeks ago, enjoying a cold pint of Alhambra, I couldn't help but overhear an American man sitting next to me, who was boringly and loudly lecturing his friends on Spanish politics. Obviously wanting to come across as piercingly insightful (and failing), he said of Vox, in a very grave, concerned tone of voice, "No joke, these guys are real fascists". I wanted to put my pint down, approach his table and politely ask if he knew what that word actually meant.