Andalusia elections: Liberals set to do deal with far right to oust socialists

Citizens and People’s Party indicate they will team up with Vox to topple PSOE

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Monday 03 December 2018 10:53
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Spanish far-right party Vox celebrates election win in Andalusia

A far-right party has won seats in one of Spain’s regional parliaments for the first time since the fall of General Franco – where it looks set to decide the province’s government.

Vox, which was founded four years ago on an anti-immigrant and anti-abortion platform, picked up 12 seats in the Andalusian elections on Sunday, a modest result that gives it a foothold in the province.

The election was won by the socialist PSOE party, which has governed Andalusia for 36 years. But with the votes counted the centre-left group does not have enough seats to command a majority, even with the support of its left-wing allies.

The results mean that the only path to ousting PSOE is a deal between Vox, the conservative People’s Party (PP), and the liberal Citizens party.

The prospect of teaming up with the far right does not appear to have disturbed the centrists, however. After the results came in Citizens’ national leader Albert Rivera suggested a deal could be done, promising to “throw the socialists off the council”.

The liberal regional leader in Catalonia Ines Arrimadas would also not rule out a coalition with the extremists, saying she had been “waiting for a change in Andalusia for 36 years”.

Senior PP figure Javier Maroto prepared the ground for a deal with Vox too, ominously attempting to reassure voters that “any government agreement that is made for Andalusia will be democratic and constitutional in content”.

Javier Ortega, Vox’s leader, said his party had “led the political debate”. He added: “We put on the table the need to control our borders and end illegal immigration, end abusive levels of taxation and the need to put an end to ideological laws relating to gender.”

PSOE won 27 per cent of the vote and 33 seats, the PP won 21 per cent of the vote and 26 seats, Citizens won 18 per cent and 21 seats – while left-wing Podemos and its allies won 16 per cent and 17 seats. Vox won 11 per cent and 12 seats.

Citizens’ allies at a European level have been quick to warn the party against dealing with the far right. Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament, congratulated Citizens for their gains but said the rise of Vox “should worry us all”.

Citizens styles itself as a liberal centrist party but has always walked a fine line to appeal to conservative voters. Earlier this year its senators refused to vote to condemn the Franco regime, while senior figures in the party have previously said there were hardly any difference between it and Vox. It has built much of its support on the back of staunch opposition to Catalan independence.

PSOE candidate and current Andalusian regional president Susana Diaz speaks to the press at a polling station in Sevilla (AFP/Getty)

PSOE regional leader Susana Diaz urged all the other parties to “build a firewall against the extreme right in Spain” and not deal with Vox.

“Each party must decide if they are against the extreme right or if they will rely on their support to enter into government,” she said.

The PSOE’s poor result is the worst in the region in its history, mirroring the trend that has gripped most European centre-left parties and seen them lose ground.

“Despite winning the election it is a sad night for the Socialist Party,” Ms Diaz said.

“There has been a real loss of ground for the left. But the worst thing is that the extreme right, a phenomenon that has appeared in the rest of Europe, has arrived here.”

The socialists lost 14 seats on their last result. It was also a poor night for the PP, who lost 7 seats. Citizens and Vox gained 12 each, while the left-wing alliance around Podemos was down three.

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