Spain: Populists Make Massive Gains, Salvini Predicts ‘Racist’ Smears by Media

OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images
OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

The national populist Vox party has made massive gains in the Spanish elections — prompting Italy’s Matteo Salvini to predict they will be smeared as “racists” and “fascists”.

Spanish voters were heading to the polls for the fourth time since 2015 — and the second time this year — after Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez found he was unable to govern, but the election results did not increase his mandate.

In fact, Sanchez has actually lost some ground, and the left-wing Unidas Podemos (United We Can) party which is the Socialists’ most natural ally in the Cortes Generales, as the Spanish parliament is known, has lost even more.

So-called independentist parties in Catalonia, which have a leftist bent despite their ambitions for sovereign statehood — scorned by the European Union, regardless of the Catalans’ europhilia — have also performed poorly, and may not be well-disposed towards Sanchez in any case, given he had harsh words for them during the election campaign.

The “centre-right” People’s Party which led the country before Sanchez and the Socialists made some modest gains after a historically poor result earlier in 2019, while the europhile Ciudadanos (Citizens) party — which the mainstream media often describes as centre-right, even though it describes itself as “post-nationalist” — has collapsed to less than 7 per cent of the vote.

The breakout stars of the election, meanwhile, are the national populist Vox party led by Santiago Abascal, which campaigned on a platform emphasising border securit, including building a wall to stop violent incursions into Spain’s African cities of Ceuta and Melilla by illegal aliens hoping to reach EU soil, and national unity, including proposals to outlaw parties seeking secession from the Spanish state.

This was a strong contrast with the Socialists, who allowed Spain to become Europe’s number one entry point for illegal migrants, declared that the continent needed “new blood”, and vowed to dismantle their African exclaves’ existing border security.

Having increased its vote share by around 50 per cent, Vox will now will leapfrog both Podemos and Ciudadanos to become the third-largest party in the Spanish parliament, after having only just entered it for the first time in April.

Italian populist leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also riding a wave of increasing support in his country, welcomed the “Great advances” by his “friends” in Vox — but predicted the backlash by the establishment would be swift.

“I bet there are already ready-made titles of news and newspapers on ‘extreme right-wing victory, racists, sovereignists, fascists’,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Not at all racist and fascist”, he objected preemptively. “In Italy as in Spain we just want to live peacefully in our own home.”

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