Spain stunned as far-right Vox party storms into Andalucian parliament

Socialists urge mainstream parties to ‘build a firewall against extreme right’

Vox's leader Santiago Abascal (left) and regional candidate Francisco Serrano (right)
Vox's leader Santiago Abascal (left) and regional candidate Francisco Serrano (right)

Spain’s Vox party has claimed 12 seats in Andalusia in a regional vote – the far-right’s first electoral success since the country’s return to democracy in the late 1970s.

Since it was founded four years ago, the anti-immigrant, nationalist party has never held any seats in any of the country's legislative bodies, but it now holds the key to forming a right-wing government in the country’s most populated region.

The Socialist Party, which has governed in the region since the death of military dictator Francisco Franco, has now lost its majority in Andalusia’s 109-seat regional assembly.

With 99 per cent of the votes counted, the Socialists saw their support fall to just 33 seats, compared to 47 in 2015.

It left the party far from the majority of 55 seats needed to govern, even if they can win the support of the far-left party Adelante Andalucia, which took 17 seats.

The conservative People’s Party (PP), which came second, said they would seek leadership of Andalusia. The PP’s national leader Pablo Casado said his party planned to hold talks in Andalusia with all the parties to the right of the Socialists.

That would include Vox and the centre-right Ciudadanos. Together, they would hold a majority of seats.

“We are the ones who will bring about change, progress and the reconquest,” said Francisco Serrano, the Vox candidate for Andalusia's regional presidency, told a crowd gathered in Seville.

Vox supporters celebrate at election night party in Seville, Andalusia

The Socialists urged mainstream parties to work together to block Vox. Susana Diaz, the Socialists’ regional leader, said it would be necessary to “build a firewall against the extreme right in Spain”.

Ms Diaz added: “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. This phenomenon we have seen in the rest of Europe and the world has now reached Spain and is entering the Andalusia parliament.”

Vox’s platform has included promises to crack down on immigration, restrict abortion and roll back domestic violence laws.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen hailed the party’s electoral success, tweeting: “Strong and warm congratulations to my friends from Vox, who tonight in Spain scored a very meaningful result for such a young and dynamic movement.”

The vote was also seen the first electoral test for Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who came to power without an election in June after parliament ousted the conservatives over a corruption scandal.

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The next national election is due in 2020 but speculation has been rife for months that Mr Sanchez, who controls fewer than a quarter of seats in the national parliament, could call a snap vote.

However, senior Socialists said before the Andalusia election that they did not expect it to trigger a general election and there would seem to be little incentive for Mr Sanchez to do so now after the disappointing results for his party in the region.

A series of local, municipal and European elections will take place in Spain at the end of May.

Additional reporting by agencies

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