The rise of the far-right in Europe
Sir, – The increasing prominence of the far-right Vox in Spanish politics is a striking and unfortunate development that should be regarded with particular concern in Ireland (“Far-right breaks into Spanish mainstream with Andalusia election”, News, December 3rd).
For the past few years, the political systems of Ireland and Spain have shared an increasingly rare feature in the context of European electoral trends in the notable absence of significant electoral support for a far-right party.
While such parties existed at the political margins in both countries, the fact that few voters in Spain went further to the right than the Popular Party revealed a significant similarity with the refusal of the Irish mainstream to veer beyond Fine Gael.
Indeed, both Fine Gael and the Popular Party are affiliated with the European People’s Party. This dynamic has become increasingly uncommon in western Europe.
While it is important not to overstate the extent of the change that this represents – it is, after all, a regional election and a relatively small share of seats in a country whose national government remains controlled by the left – the potential for Vox to emerge as a credible political force in a country whose conservative politics have moderated over the course of their democratic history should serve as a warning to Ireland in particular.
Our apparent resistance to these broader trends in favour of the far-right may also be vulnerable and that well-publicised smattering of votes for a particular presidential candidate a few weeks ago could well be the start of something more sinister. – Yours, etc,