PRESSURE is mounting on Spain’s Socialist Party Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez after the far-right Vox Party won 12 seats in Sunday’s election for the Andalucian regional parliament.
It is the first time that a far-right party has had electoral success in parliamentary elections at any level since the 1975 death of General Franco and the restoration of democracy in Spain.
The Socialist Party (PSOE) vote dropped to just 28 per cent and 33 seats, meaning that it will not be able to govern Andalucia even with the support of the left-wing Adelante Andalucia coalition.
While the conservative Popular Party (PP) also lost support, dropping six percentage points to just under 21 per cent of the vote, the results are a disaster for PSOE, which has held the region for 36 years.
Andalucia’s PSOE president Susana Diaz called the snap election in October in an attempt to take advantage of the momentum after Mr Sanchez became PM following a no-confidence vote in the PP.
But the result, the worst in the party’s history, reflects a downward trend in its vote share in the region, falling from 51 per cent in 2004.
She blamed a low turnout — 59 per cent — for the poor result and called on other mainstream parties to freeze out Vox, which is seen as possible kingmaker in the Andalucian parliament.
“This phenomenon we have seen in other European countries is now present in the Andalucian parliament. I call on all the other political parties who consider themselves defenders of our democratic constitution to brake the extreme right,” she said.
Andalucia has one of Europe’s highest unemployment rates, and with the region an entry point for African migrants arriving in Spain, right-wing groups have sought to fuel anti-immigration sentiment.
In its campaign Vox vowed to expel all immigrants who have entered the country illegally and oppose autonomy for Catalonia. Leader Javier Ortega claimed the party had led the debate. “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,” he said.
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera, whose centre-right party’s vote doubled to 18 per cent, urged Mr Sanchez to call a general election, claiming that “the Andalucians have turned their back on you.”