Spain’s Vox party won seats in the Andalusia regional parliament in Sunday’s election, marking the first time the far-right has gained ground in Spain in decades, according to Politico.
The Socialist (PSOE) party had dominated Andalusia nearly uncontested for 36 years, and for the most part, the rise of the European far-right had bypassed Spain.With nearly all ballots counted, the PSOE had won only 33 seats out of 109, down from 47 in the last election in 2015. They would have needed 55 seats to establish a majority.
The Vox party, which opposes illegal immigration and abortion, won 12 seats, in the first substantial victory for the Spanish far-right since Franco’s death in 1975.
“We know today that Andalusia has voted for change and therefore it will have change. Forty years of Socialist hegemony in Andalusia has ended tonight,” said the regional leader of the conservative Popular Party, Juanma Moreno.
Moreno’s party won 26 seats, down seven from 2015, and the centrist Ciudadanos party won 21, up 12 from the last election.
The lost ground is a red flag for Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, who will face local, regional, and European elections in May. Analysts warn the success on the right could herald a broader shift on the national level. If the conservatives cooperate with the Vox party, they could leverage a majority with 59 seats in Andalusia, threatening nearly four decades of uninterrupted socialist rule.
In total, right-leaning parties won about 50 percent of the vote compared to 44 percent for left leaning parties.
Despite the grim results, Prime Minister Sánchez said:
“My government will carry on with its pro-European renovation project for Spain. The results in Andalucía strengthen our commitment to defending democracy and the constitution in the face of fear.”
The PSOE regional leader Susana Díaz said the election was “a real loss of ground for the left,” but that “the worst thing is that the extreme right, a phenomenon that has appeared in the rest of Europe, has arrived here.”
Vox was formed by disaffected members of the Popular Party, and built their success on voter anxiety over a record-setting number of migrants arriving in Spain. They have pulled Ciudadanos and the Popular Party further right, and vocally opposed Catalan independence.
Vox leader Santiago Abascal responded to criticism from other parties and mainstream media at a news conference, saying:
“You haven’t understood anything. Every time you insult us, you are insulting the millions of Spanish people who listen to us and identify with our message.”