Le Pays De France - Far-right Vox enters Spain regional govt for first time

Paris -
Far-right Vox enters Spain regional govt for first time
Far-right Vox enters Spain regional govt for first time

Far-right Vox enters Spain regional govt for first time

Spain's Vox entered a regional government for the first time under a coalition deal with the right-wing Popular Party Thursday that will give the far-right faction a major impact on policy.

Text size:

Under the country's highly decentralised system, Spain's 17 regions have broad powers, meaning Vox's entry into the regional government of Castilla y Leon, just north of Madrid, could offer a blueprint for future power-sharing, both regionally and nationally.

But the PP, which is Spain's main opposition party, came under immediate fire from the ruling Socialists, who lashed out over its "cosying up to the extreme right", with deputy leader Adriana Lastra denouncing the deal as "a disgrace" and a "pact of shame".

And the formation of a PP-Vox government could offer a foretaste of the type of right-wing alliance that might end up ruling Spain after the next general election, due by the end of 2023.

"We have reached an agreement with Vox... that will allow us to establish a stable and solid government," tweeted the region's outgoing PP leader Alfonso Fernandez Manueco, who will be reinstated thanks to the deal.

Vox would hold the second-highest position in Castilla y Leon's government and would run three of the region's 10 councils. It would also head the regional parliament.

The breakthrough for the far-right faction came after it saw strong gains in last month's snap regional election in which it soared from one mandate to 13 in Castilla y Leon's 81-seat assembly.

Although the PP came first, it only won 31 seats, leaving it vulnerable to pressure from Vox.

- 'A historic day for Vox' -

"Today is a historic day for Vox. It's the first time we are entering a regional government," said Juan Garcia-Gallardo, who heads the far-right faction's Castilla y Leon branch.

"This coalition government will set a good example to the rest of the regions and the whole country about the possibilities that can exist when the PP and Vox join forces," he said, very aware of the wider implications of the tie-up.

The tie-up with Vox comes as the PP struggles to get over a major internal crisis which has forced the departure of leader Pablo Casado.

Haunted by the rise of Vox, it was Casado's idea to call a snap election in Castilla y Leon to strengthen the party's hold in a region it has ruled for 35 years.

But the plan backfired, creating an opening for Vox.

Analysts say the PP must close ranks to address its internal divisions or risk Vox becoming the nation's second-largest party at the next election.

Founded in 2014, Vox started as a marginal force in Spanish politics before causing a major upset in late 2018 when it entered a regional parliament for the first time, winning seats in the assembly of Andalusia in the south.

Following national elections nearly a year later, it became the third-largest force in Spanish politics with 52 seats in the 350-seat parliament, mirroring gains elsewhere in Europe for the far right.

The regional governments of both Andalusia and the Madrid area are PP-led but supported from the outside by Vox in exchange for political concessions.