As Spain elects its first far-right MPs since Franco, the party's leader invokes the Inquisition years

Santiago Abascal deliberately used the term 'reconquista', referring to the period when Muslims — and Jews — were expelled from Iberia


For the first time since the years of the Generalísimo, members of the Spanish far-right will sit in the national parliament. One in ten voters supported the Vox party — founded six years ago — in Spain’s general election on Sunday, a result that gave them 24 seats.

For many, it was not a surprise. Vox had already shocked observers last December when it won seats in the regional parliament of Andalusia, traditionally a left-wing stronghold.

And these days the far-right sits in legislatures in many Western European countries, from Italy and France to Germany and Sweden.

But it is surely a moment of record that, for the first time since Francisco Franco died in office and Spain started its difficult but widely applauded transition to democracy, politicians who openly defend the dictators’ record are back in parliament.

Among them could have been a Holocaust denier: the historian Fernando Paz, who has questioned the murder of six million Jews and called the Nuremberg trials a “farce”.

Mr Paz was the party’s top candidate in the province of Albacete until his views were brought to public attention by FCJE, the official representative body of the Spanish Jewish community. He denied being antisemitic but resigned as a candidate after a wave of protest.

His absence does not alter his party’s policy platform, which makes familiar reading to most followers of European politics.

In keeping with France’s National Rally or the AfD in Germany, Vox describes itself as socially conservative: it opposes abortion and has sought to undo laws that protect women against violence and discrimination. Its campaign was explicitly anti-migrant, targeting Muslims in particular, and saying tens of thousands should be deported.

“This is just the start,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal told a victory rally last weekend. “We started a reconquest and this is what we have done. Vox now has a voice in parliament. Welcome to the resistance.”

He deliberately used the term reconquista, a reference to the historical period in which Christians assumed control of the Iberian peninsula from Muslims.

Of course, that period ended with the Inquisition and the forced expulsion of Spain’s Jews in 1492.

There is no immediate dilemma facing Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the winner of Sunday’s election.

His Socialist Party pledged to form a minority government by striking informal deals with other parties, but even if a coalition with other parties is necessary, he need not turn to Vox: other partners are available. The far-right has entered Spain’s parliament, not government.

And yet one of Mr Sánchez’s potential partners is Pablo Iglesias, leader of the far-left Podemos, many of whose members have faced accusations of antisemitism of a kind also seen in Britain’s Labour Party.

As with much of Europe these days, Spain is one to watch.

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