Spain’s anti-migrant party is set to soar in this weekend’s repeat election

Santiago Abascal’s militaristic language could see his Vox party double its seats in parliament on Sunday


The leader of the far-right Vox party thinks the Spanish Inquisition makes for a good campaign slogan.

“This is just the start,” Santiago Abascal told a victory rally after a general election back in April, when his party took 2.7 million votes and won seats — 24 of them — for the first time.

“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 word reconquista, referring to the time in the 15th century when Christians seized control of the Iberian peninsula from the Muslim Moors.

That period, in which forced conversions and violence was used to impose Catholicism throughout the land, resulted in the expulsion of Spanish and Portuguese Jews in 1492.

Mr Abascal’s campaign rhetoric makes extensive use of militaristic language.

Last month, when the government enacted plans to move the remains of former dictator Francisco Franco away from a memorial to Spanish civil war victims, he said the true aim was to “rewrite history, the aim is to delegitimise the monarchy and the aim is to topple [King] Felipe VI.”

This week, Mr Abascal said there was now a “permanent coup d’etat in Catalonia”, as the region maintained its drive for independence.

The words play well among Spanish people worried that their country is being simultaneously divided and colonised.

If elected, Vox says it will arrest Quim Torra, the president of Catalonia’s regional government, and impose direct rule from Madrid. It also promises to stop all illegal immigration into Spain and deport migrants without identity papers. Much of its campaigning is built around opposition to Muslims.

Vox is highly unlikely to win Sunday’s election, or even come a distant second, but its rise has nonetheless been meteoric. In 2016, then barely known, the party scraped together 47,000 votes (0.20 percent) in the general election.

By the next contest just three years later, it had secured the support of one in every ten people.

This Sunday, Spanish voters are heading to the polls again for the country’s fourth general election in as many years, and Vox is set to do even better. A poll for El País published on Monday projected it would win 46 seats, almost twice as many six months ago.

The same poll gave the centre-left Socialist Party a clear lead, but significantly short of an overall majority and with no immediately clear routes to a coalition. It is an outlook that will sound grimly familiar to anyone watching politics in Britain or Israel.

Most other Spanish parties have ruled out cooperating with Vox, meaning its immediate impact will be limited.

But make no mistake: this is a growing far-right movement designed to channel popular anger at a minority group in a Western European country. There is real reason for alarm.

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