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Published 18 April 2019 (17 hours 5 minutes ago)

The Spanish far-right has risen from obscurity, and is likely to take a prominent role in the next parliament.

Spaniards head to the polls for a general election on April 28​​​​​. Polls show that the far-right party, Vox, is set to win a significant section of the vote. Meanwhile, the leftist Podemos is likely to win a much smaller share than at the last elections in 2016.

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Excluding Vox, polls published Thursday by the media group ‘SER’, and another Tuesday by the ‘IMOP Insights’ agency show very little change from when current Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez took the reigns in June 2018. Pedro Sanchez’ PSOE is leading at 30 percent in the two polls, while the Conservative PP lags behind at between 17-19 percent, despite being the party of government just a year ago. The centrist coalition around the ‘Ciudadanos’ group comes in at third with around 15 percent, and the leftist Podemos group just behind, reaching between 12-14 percent.

The only significant change is Vox, polling at 10-12 percent, despite polling at just 1.3 percent in October 2018.

Vox has hit the headlines for their controversial policies. Their most recent manifesto includes, scrapping laws around gender violence, promising to close down ‘fundamentalist’ mosques and deport their imams, along with a hardline anti-migrant stance. Their leader, Santiago Abascal claims to “be always armed with a Smith and Wesson.”

Until recently, Spain had no far-right party represented in the legislature in stark contrast to much of Europe where parties such as Germany’s AFD and France’s Front National have been ascendent. However, analysts argue that the resurgent Catalan independence movement, along with the migrant crisis has coalesced right-wing sentiment around Vox, a party to the right of the mainstream conservative PP.

Vox first burst onto the scene in December 2018, when they rose from obscurity to win 12 seats in the Andalusia regional elections, an area that’s traditionally a bastion of the left.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias blames the conservative PP and centrist Ciudadanos parties for contributing to the rise of Vox, due to their increasingly anti-migrant discourse, saying “They put themselves in positions of the extreme right, which has fed into and normalized [Vox].”

Expanding on that he argues; “The fundamental lesson is that to be a democrat, you need to be antifascist, something that the PP and Ciudadanos do not understand.”

 The SER and IMOP polls are also disappointing for Podemos, who at the last election gained 21 percent, just one point behind the now ruling PSOE. Now, their poll numbers have stagnated at around 12%. The longstanding row between Iglesias and co-founder Iñigo Errejon has damaged the party. Disagreements over whether to unite with the Communist Party’s Izquierda Unida front, and whether to take a hardline against the centrist Ciudadanos led to Errejon leaving Podemos as he grew to be seen by Iglesias supporters as right wing.   

Though the social democratic PSOE lead the polls by a clear margin, they are unlikely to win a majority and Spain will return to the political deadlock that has plagued the last two governments. The upcoming election was called by Sanchez after he took power last June when parliament ousted the former conservative PM Mariano Rajoy, who was embroiled in corruption allegations.

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