The right: wounded and dangerous
Many people feared a repeat of the right wing alliance — the PP, Ciudadanos and the new far right party, VOX — that took power in Andalucía last December, replacing the PSOE in the regional government. The fact that the right didn’t win yesterday is very positive and important.
The main conservative party, the PP, fell disastrously, from 7.9 million votes and 137 MPs to 4.4 million and 66 seats. This is a serious defeat for the party’s new leader, Pablo Casado, and his strategy of trying to deal with the rise of the far right by copying it. We will have to see if the bulk of the PP leadership responds to the defeat by changing direction, or by going even further to the right.
A lot of the PP’s loss went to the centre right Ciudadanos party (Cs), that rose from 3.1 million votes and 32 seats, to 4.1 million votes and 57 MPs. While Cs did pact with the PP and VOX in Andalucía, unlike the PP it has tried to maintain some appearances of “liberalism”.
But the big story on the right is the rise of VOX, which enters Congress with 24 MPs and 2.7 million votes.
VOX has grown from almost nothing to over 10% in less than a year. It originated as a right wing split from the PP in 2013. The PP’s ongoing crisis —its corruption, its inability to resolve the Catalan issue, and other factors— has led to a haemorrhage of its right wing members and supporters to VOX. But VOX has also sucked in out and out fascists, such as former members of Plataforma per Catalunya, the Le Pen type party that dissolved itself in February, following years of defeats and splits caused essentially by the campaigns against it of Unitat Contra el Feixisme i el Racisme (UCFR), the united movement against fascism and racism in Catalonia.
So rather like UKIP in Britain and AfD in Germany, VOX includes both populist right wing elements and fascists; it is too soon to tell which factor will prevail.
One very important point about VOX is that it is not mainly winning support in poor working class areas, but rather from former PP strongholds. To give an example, the two towns with the highest income per person in the whole of the Spanish state —both in the outskirts of Madrid— had a massive vote for the far right. In the richest, Pozuelo de Alarcón, VOX obtained 19.8%; in the second richest, Majadahonda, 18.8%.
But it’s not only economics. The third richest town is Sant Cugat del Vallès, in Catalonia, close to Barcelona. Here VOX “only” got 4.1%; above average for the Barcelona region, but nothing compared to the rich suburbs of Madrid.
Even though the worst predictions of 30, 40 or more seats were not fulfilled, 24 far right MPs is very bad news. It makes it all the more important to continue to build movements like UCFR across the whole of the Spanish state.
- Note by David Karvala, activist in UCFR
- Offical page with the election results: https://www.resultados.eleccionesgenerales19.es/Congreso/Total-nacional/0/es