Spanish parties court far-right support after Andalucía election

Election leaves conservatives seeking backing of Vox to form new government

The far-right Vox party leader Santiago Abascal: said it would “never be an obstacle” to a new government. Photograph: Luca Piergiovanni/EPA

The far-right Vox party leader Santiago Abascal: said it would “never be an obstacle” to a new government. Photograph: Luca Piergiovanni/EPA

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Mainstream Spanish parties are under mounting pressure not to court the support of a far-right party as they attempt to form a new government in the southern region of Andalucía.

Last Sunday’s election in the region was inconclusive, with all the main parties falling well short of a majority in the 109-seat chamber.

The two parties currently best positioned to form a new administration are the Popular Party (PP), with 26 seats, and Ciudadanos, with 21, both of which are on the right.

However, together they would still need the support of a third party. The far-right Vox, which outstripped forecasts by securing 12 seats, appears willing to negotiate, with its leader Santiago Abascal saying his party will “never be an obstacle” to a new government.

Vox calls for a clampdown on immigration, particularly from Muslim countries, and opposes abortion, gay marriage and legislation protecting women from gender violence.

Since Sunday’s ballot, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, have congratulated Vox on its electoral performance.

Both the PP and Ciudadanos avoided describing the party as “far right” during the election campaign, apparently mindful that they might need its support afterwards. PP leader Pablo Casado has appeared to encourage it to back his party’s candidate, Juan Manuel Moreno, as he tries to gain support to be voted in as Andalucían president.

“Vox will have to decide if it has a passive stance – which would mean abstaining in order to ease the creation of the government – or an active one, in terms of taking part in our electoral platform for the next four years,” Mr Casado said.

‘Defend our values’

Ciudadanos says its own candidate, Juan Marín, should lead the new government, because it made the most gains of all the traditional parties. Speaking at an event in Barcelona to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Spain’s constitution, Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera said that voters wanted his party “to lead, to govern, to defend our values from a position of government”, suggesting he would accept the support of Vox.

Critics have warned that their tolerance of Vox has exposed extremist tendencies in both the PP and Ciudadanos. But opposition to the far-right party has also come from closer to home.

Manuel Valls, the former French prime minister who is running for mayor of Barcelona as an independent with the backing of Ciudadanos, told an interviewer this week: “There cannot be a deal with Vox”. Appearing at the anniversary event with Mr Rivera, he also said that “the moderate, progressive centre is the answer, we cannot give space to populism”.

Susana Díaz, the Socialist leader in Andalucía, has called for mainstream parties to block Vox’s involvement in Spain’s political institutions. Her party has governed in the region for the last 36 years, but despite winning Sunday’s election it suffered major losses and appears unable to form a left-leaning administration.

A series of anti-Vox demonstrations have been held throughout this week, in Andalucía and elsewhere in Spain. On Thursday, anti-fascist activists clashed with police in the Catalan city of Girona ahead of an event organised by right-wing groups, including Vox.

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