Right angles


Perhaps the PP and Vox both stand for a blend of right-of-centre policies, some of which are standard Conservative, others of which are further along the spectrum

Mark Nayler

Friday, 18 March 2022, 14:50


The only surprising thing about the first official union between Vox and the Popular Party (PP) is that it didn't happen sooner. Although Pablo Abascal's relatively new rightist group has informally propped up administrations in Andalucía, Murcia and Madrid, this is the first time it has become a regional coalition partner - its reward for coming third in the election in Castilla y León last month.

This not only prompts interesting questions about the differences between "right" and "far right"; it also indicates that perhaps the PP and Vox both stand for a blend of right-of-centre policies, some of which are standard Conservative, others of which are further along the spectrum. In a couple of key areas, the two parties are separated only by degrees of rhetoric. In several others, they are in perfect concord.

When he took over as PP leader in 2018, Pablo Casado immediately shifted the party further to the right than it had been under Mariano Rajoy, precisely to attract voters drifting towards Vox. He whipped up fear of illegal migration from north and west Africa, stating that "a million migrants [were] waiting on the coast of Libya", and promised to defend Spain's Moroccan borders. Vox has gone a step further in calling for a huge wall to be built around Spain's north African enclaves, but its stance on illegal immigration is fundamentally the same as the PP's, at least the PP as it has been under Casado.

Vox opposes same-sex marriage but supports same-sex civil unions. Under Rajoy, the PP railed against same-sex marriage when it was introduced in 2005 (making Spain only the third country in the world to permit same-sex marriage, after Belgium and the Netherlands). The Conservatives only dropped their vow to repeal the legislation in 2012, when the Constitutional Court upheld the 2005 law.

The PP backed large demonstrations in Madrid against same-sex marriage when it was introduced, prompting Beatriz Gimeno - now a Podemos minister but then president of the Spanish Federation of Gays, Lesbians, Trans and Bisexuals - to lament "a return to the extreme right wing national Catholicism of the Franco days". Seventeen years on, this is exactly why many on the left and both sides of the centre oppose the rise of Vox.

Both Vox and the PP are pro-monarchy and fiercely opposed to Spain's separatist movements. With its call for the abolition of regional autonomy and the outlawing of secessionist parties, Vox is "ultra-nationalist" rather than merely "nationalist" - but here, as in other areas, the difference between the two parties is one of degree. Both Vox and the PP favour lower taxes and support bullfighting. They have enough in common to blur the thin divide between right and far right and govern together harmoniously.




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