Explainer: What is Vox?

Ben Wray

Vox is rooted in the Falangist traditions of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship of Spain, which ended after his death in 1975

VOX is the first party of the far-right in Spain to win seats since the end of the Franco era. Who are they, and what do they stand for? CommonSpace explains the key things you need to know.

Vox is a far-right Spanish political party, emerging out of a split with the centre-right People’s Party (PP) in 2013. The party is strongly rooted in the Falangist party of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, which was formally dissolved in 1977 after General Franco’s death in 1975. Thus Vox stands for bringing an end to Spain’s post-Franco federal structure and the re-centralisation of Spain, is strongly anti-Basque and anti-Catalan nationalist and is conservative (with a strong Christian dimension) on social issues like abortion and LGBT rights.

The party has associated itself politically with Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing populism in Europe, focusing attacks on immigrants, Islam and feminism. It has attempted to distance itself from the splintered Falangist groups that have always existed in the post-Franco era and present itself as a modern populist right party, but it is clear that its membership base is Falangist.

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Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, is the son of a Basque politician from the PP who had faced death threats from the militant pro-independence group ETA. He presents himself as trendy and modern, and talks about how Vox will break up “the system”. As such, Abascal has drawn votes from Ciudadanos and Podemos, other new parties on the right and left respectively which have also presented themselves as enemies of Spain’s post-Franco establishment politics, dominated as it has been by two parties – centre-left PSOE and PP – and mired in corruption scandals.

Vox have a soft Euroscepticism, critical of anything that would undermine “Spanish sovereignty” but willing to stay in the EU and the Eurozone.

The party holds demonstrations and organises in neighbourhoods, as well as having a strong social media presence. 10,000 people attended a rally to launch their new manifesto in September.

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As of November, the party had a membership of 13,000, small but enough to be organised in most of Spain. The party’s base is mainly thought to reside in the Spanish upper middle class and generally an older demographic of people nostalgic for the days of Franco and opposed to multiculturalism.

The Catalan crisis in 2017 led to a rise in Falangist protests in Spain, which have found a new energy following the coming to power of PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez, who has sought to exhume Franco’s grave and distance the country further from its fascist past. Vox have been the main political benefactors of this new movement.

Picture courtesy of Contando Estrelas

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