The far-right Spanish political party Vox has made its support for a new Andalucían regional government contingent on demands including the expulsion of 52,000 “illegal immigrants” and the repeal of laws on domestic violence and gender equality.
Vox, which secured its first parliamentary seats in December’s Andalucían election, is also calling for Spain’s autonomous regional governments to surrender the responsibilities for education, health and public order it was handed following the end of the Franco dictatorship.
The far-right party has said it will support a coalition between the conservative People’s party (PP) and the centre-right Citizens party that is intended to end 36 years of socialist rule in the southern Spanish region – but only if its 19 demands are heeded.
“We came here to contribute,” the party’s spokesman, Iván Espinosa, said after a meeting with the PP on Tuesday. “Our 19 proposals are very reasonable and that’s why people in Andalucía voted for us.”
Although the PP has dismissed the demands as “unacceptable nonsense”, it said a meeting with Vox representatives would go ahead as planned on Wednesday.
Vox was formed by disgruntled PP members five years ago and made a major breakthrough in December’s regional election, winning 12 seats, 11% of the vote and becoming the first far-right party to win representation since Spain returned to democracy after Franco’s death.
Also among its 19 proposals are laws to “protect” bullfighting, flamenco and Holy Week celebrations, and a request that Andalucía’s regional day be changed to commemorate the 1492 conclusion of the Christian reconquest of Spain following seven centuries of Moorish rule.
Its leader, Santiago Abascal, has raged against what he calls “supremacist feminism and gender totalitarianism”, and the party has complained that existing domestic violence laws are unfairly weighted against men.
Vox’s rise has pushed the PP, led by Pablo Casado, further to the right.
This week, both the EU and the French government have expressed concerns over the rhetoric and manoeuvrings since December’s election.
While he declined to comment on the formation of the regional government, the European commission’s chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, said: “For us, fundamental rights, parity, and equality between men and women remain an absolute political priority.”
France’s minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, was more explicit.
Although France’s governing party, La République En Marche, is aligned with the Citizens party, Loiseau warned against striking any deals with Vox.
“As a member of a government and a party … that defeated the far-right to win a general election, you’ll understand why I say that there can be no deals with the far-right,” she told the Spanish radio network Cadena Ser on Tuesday.
“I’ve listened to the initial statement from Vox representatives, saying they want to set back women’s rights. They are very worrying and I think everything possible must be done to fight this extremism.”
Women’s rights groups across Spain are planning action over the coming weeks to safeguard existing legislation and to protest against Vox’s demands.