Spanish far-right party threatens impasse over ‘supremacist feminism’

Vox’s support needed to form new right-wing government in Andalucía

Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain’s far-right party Vox. Vox has vowed to fight against what Mr Abascal calls “the dictatorship of the politically correct”, including a growing campaign for women’s rights. Photograph: Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images

Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain’s far-right party Vox. Vox has vowed to fight against what Mr Abascal calls “the dictatorship of the politically correct”, including a growing campaign for women’s rights. Photograph: Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images

 

The far-right Vox party is threatening to scupper the formation of a new regional government in southern Spain if its demands, which include countering what it calls “supremacist feminism”, are not heeded.

In an Andalucía election in December, Vox won 12 seats in the 109-seat regional parliament, outstripping forecasts and making it a potential kingmaker. The Popular Party (PP) and Ciudadanos, both on the right, need Vox’s support in order to remove the Socialist Party from power in Andalucía for the first time in 36 years.

The PP and Ciudadanos have agreed a series of policies for a governing partnership but Vox is not included in the accord. The party, which was formed in 2014, ran on a stridently unionist platform aimed at countering Catalan secessionism, which the PP and Ciudadanos broadly share. However, Vox has also vowed to fight against what its leader, Santiago Abascal, calls “the dictatorship of the politically correct”, including a growing campaign for women’s rights, which he described as “supremacist feminism and gender totalitarianism”.

Violence

The PP and Ciudadanos have pledged to implement measures included in a new regional law aimed at protecting women from violence perpetrated by their partners, ex-partners or other men. The legislation broadens the concept of “victim” in such cases and calls for gender equality to be included in the school syllabus.

But Vox believes such measures are unfair on men and encourage false accusations by women against their former partners during separations of couples.

On Friday, Ciudadanos insisted that Vox has not been included in formal talks to form the new government and appeared to rule out any change in policy on the gender issue. Lorena Roldán, a Ciudadanos senator, said that gender violence “is not an issue which can be negotiated because it’s very serious and affects us all”.

New election

Last month, Manuel Valls, the former French prime minister who is running for mayor of Barcelona with the support of Ciudadanos, said that Vox should not be part of any governing agreement in Andalucía.

If no government can be formed in the region, there will be a new election. Vox has criticised both the PP and Ciudadanos, warning that it would rather repeat the ballot than let down its 400,000 voters in Andalucía by supporting a new government without gaining concessions.

The Spanish government has reported that at least 47 women died at the hands of their partners or ex-partners in 2018. On Thursday, a 26-year-old Dominican woman was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in Cantabria in northern Spain.

Last month, the journalist Antonio Maestre posted on Twitter that those “who defend Vox” are responsible for violent deaths of women. The party has responded by announcing it is taking legal action against Mr Maestre, accusing him of slander.

Hardline stance

Vox’s hardline stance has also drawn criticism from some sectors of the PP. Borja Sémper, a senior PP politician in the Basque Country, said his party should not negotiate with Vox because the far-right force “breaks the big consensuses regarding stability, the constitution and national harmony”.

However, on Friday, there were reports that the PP is offering to change regulations regarding gender violence in Andalucía in a bid to mollify Vox. Mr Abascal said the reported shift was “a good start”, although he called for the PP and Ciudadanos to heed his party on a range of other issues, such as clamping down on immigration and lowering taxes.