Spain's far-right could hold the keys to the country
2019 was an intense year in Spanish politics. At the beginning of the year, buzz abounded on prospects for the newly-emerged nationalist Vox party, which had just secured around 11% of the vote in recent Andalusian elections. That put them in position to play kingmaker, forging a supply-and-confidence deal with other parties of the right. Many wondered whether their momentum would translate in the general election to be held just a few months later.
It did- sort of. But not nearly to the extent that Vox faithfuls had hoped for. While the party firmly landed in parliament, taking 10% and 24 seats, the outcome was far off of what some supporters had envisioned after Andalusia, where they surprised all observers by outperforming the polls. This time, they had underperformed most of the final surveys.
One month later, Vox momentum really stalled. In local and regional elections, the party only secured single digit results nationwide. Once envisioning a situation where Vox legislators held the keys to government in nearly every region, they instead found themselves shut out amid a left-of-center wave. In some regions, like Castilla-La Mancha, they failed to win legislators entirely. Some imagined the party would fade as fast as it had risen.
That didn’t happen. Spain held another general election that fall, in which Vox increased their share to 15%, a third-place finish. But the incumbent Socialist government pressed on.
Now, four years down the road, Spain goes back to the polls to elect local and regional governments once more. According to surveys, the shift could be stark. A situation in which Vox support is necessary for government formation in most regions is not unthinkable; and, in fact, it could even be likely.
Vox is not slated to blow up the vote this time around. In many regions, they’re still seen in the single digits range. But almost everywhere, their support is seen to have increased, and winning even a small number of seats could end up decisive to overall outcomes. The major factor shifting calculations is the rise of the conservative People’s Party. Almost everywhere, the party has seen a lift, buoying prospects for right-wing takeovers.
Polls show that regions like Cantabria, La Rioja, Castilla-La Mancha, and Valencia could all be set for a flip. It is no guarantee that the People’s Party would work with Vox in all of these situations, as grand coalitions or deals with minor parties could also present themselves as options.
But Vox in government already has one major precedent: In 2022’s Castile and León election, Vox took a surprising result, with over 17% of the vote. That put them in position to form an outright coalition with the People’s Party that many Vox stalwarts hope will be replicated nationally.
There are still quite a few regions where the left could hang on. Asturias and Aragon, while registering a People’s Party rise, do not yet see the right in a position to easily form government. In Navarre and other regions with strong local parties, the PSOE could forge deals that allow it to remain in power.
If regional elections see strong results for the right, they’ll have an opportunity to ratify a national shift later this year. Spain is slated to hold another general election, with polls currently putting the People’s Party and Vox at a majority combined.
At the time of writing, these regional elections are over two weeks away. There is still time for calculations to change- but a right-wing victory here would certainly forebode a seismic change in Spanish politics.
In neighboring Italy, the far-right takeover of the country has been stark and swift.
Add into the mix France, where prospects for Le Pen’s nationalists are better than they’ve ever been amid anger towards Macron and major breakthroughs in last year’s parliamentary elections, and Western Europe’s “Romance” countries may be staring down a very right-wing future.
Likewise, Portugal’s Chega is on the move as well, reaching new heights in recent polling.
Elsewhere, in both Turkey and Greece, communists could theoretically hold the keys to power after upcoming elections (though Greek communists say they’ll refuse to form a government).
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