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Spain: Rising Populist Party Wants to Build a Wall to Stop Illegal Immigration

wall
David Ramos/Getty Images
JACK MONTGOMERY

Spain’s national populist Vox party has pledged to build an “insurmountable wall” to protect the country from illegal immigrants ahead of an expected breakthrough in the elections on April 28th.

Spain provides the European Union’s only land border with an African country around the exclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and their environs — known collectively on as the plazas de soberanía, or “places of sovereignty” — which have been integrated with Spain since the 1400s.

The autonomous cities are protected by a robust series of fences, but the governing Socialist Party wishes to significantly weaken them, and even in their current form they are frequently breached by massed, violent assaults by illegal migrants, often armed and generally hailing from sub-Saharan Africa.

Vox, however, which entered the political mainstream with a pathbreaking third-place finish in regional elections in Andalusia in December 2018, has vowed to protect the EU’s common border with Africa with an “insurmountable wall” — and, like U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016, has suggested that the Moroccan regime will pay for it.

Spain became the frontline for Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis after the Italians elected a new populist coalition government in which pro-borders League (Lega) leader Matteo Salvini took responsibility for controlling immigration; Italy having itself become the frontline after the Turkish government was persuaded to begin controlling its maritime border with Greece with a multi-billion euro EU deal.

The Socialist Party government of Pedro Sanchez appeared happy to open Spain’s gates to compensate, with foreign minister Josep Borrell claiming Europe needed “new blood, and it doesn’t look like this new blood is coming from our capacity to procreate”.

Vox has built much of its growing popularity on promises that it would take the opposite attitude towards illegal immigration, buoyed by a perception that the “cowardly right-wing” embodied in the establishment centre-right People’s Party (PP) has “abandoned” the voters, in the words of party leader Santiago Abascal.

Vox also appeals to Spanish unionists opposed to separatism in Catalonia and the Basque Country, which the Socialists and PP are alleged to have appeased.

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