Spain has seen political polarization and country-wide division in its recent history. At the conclusion of Francisco Franco’s authoritarian regime in the late 1970’s, Spaniards thought the divide within the country was over, but the 2008 financial crisis forced the country back to square one. As a result, Spain’s political population has trended toward right-wing ideologies and is now gaining a strong foothold in government, as the far right-wing Vox party has secured 15% of the vote share in the November 2019 Spanish General Election as opposed to securing .20% in the 2016 election. The societal rift is clear in Spanish culture and politics, and the trend only seems to be continuing.
Francisco Franco, who ran a dictatorship throughout Spain for over 35 years, gave Spain a lot to recover over given their major shift to a democratic state. Between the current time period to the conclusion of Franco’s dictatorship, major events such as the financial crisis and immigration issues would have people looking toward a right-wing party. The Spanish people wanted to be heard, so many also turned to the 15M movement, which gave people a chance to have their voices heard through protest against “the political efficacy that Spain had been living in since the economic crisis of 2008” (Navarro). Tensions have only begun to rise with the financial crisis which Spain has been known to have never actually recovered from, the founding of right-wing Vox party in 2013 and left-wing populist Podemos party in 2014, as well as rising tensions between sovereignty and self determination. Subsequently, we have been seeing a trend in radical right-wing domination, which has been silent for the majority of time post-dictatorship. This is essentially the first time the far-right has had any power in Spain since Francisco Franco, with the Vox party recently securing a place in a coalition running the regional government in Castile and Leon. This shows that Spain’s next general election has a legitimate chance of being right-wing favorable, and that Franco’s regime worried people that if a right-wing party were to emerge again, another dictatorship could emerge with it.
Vox party reflects a masculine image upon Spanish politics and making other parties such as Podemos and People’s Party look like “communists” and “derechita cobarde (cowardly right)”. Supporters of the party have taken extreme measures to ensure the party gets the spotlight it deserves, and degrade the other parties while they’re at it. Many use Twitter to stir up the pot, and others have even turned to creating scandals just to grab people’s attention. This is what the party sees fit as discourse to becoming the party to take over government. Vox is setting the agenda that their party is the “correct” choice to vote on, and that voting for other options means that you don’t love the country. “Taking away the capability of the people to create their own personal political thought and making social pressure the basis of voting will never solve Spain’s problems” (Navarro). This has created mass polarization throughout the country, and the scale of the societal rift is so immense that day-to-day issues such as unemployment and gender inequality are being completely overlooked due to preoccupation with voting for the party that best fits people’s social recognition. Many scenarios will have Vox party increasing in support, even if they don’t win the next election or two, not only because of the garnering support it is gaining from young people and elitists, but also because of the President of the Madrid region, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who is looking to bring the People’s Party to victory in the next election by getting support from Vox, something no other party is willing to do. Incorporating a dangerous and polarized party like Vox could jeopardize Spain’s political future entirely, and will almost guarantee that the right-wing will be here to stay if it is enough for the People’s Party to win. A PSOE-Ciudadanos partnership would be very beneficial in keeping the power away from the right as it would not only end the country’s grinding political deadlock, but it would also constitute a reformist government, one that is clearly much needed.
Spain’s political landscape is more fragile than ever, and extreme caution must be taken by the government to minimize the influence the right-wing has on the general population.
Corcoran, Patrick. “Patrick Corcoran.” NYU JILP, 22 Feb. 2021, https://www.nyujilp.org/catalonia-potential-sovereignty-in-the-era-of-controversial-self-determination/.
Navarro, Marta. “The New Spanish Identity: The Trendiness of Polarization.” Identity Hunters, 9 Feb. 2022, https://identityhunters.org/2022/02/09/the-new-spanish-identity-the-trendiness-of-polarization/.
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