A group of migrants walk towards a Red Cross tent in southern Spain | Photo: Picture Alliance / Zuma Press / Sopa Images / J. Merida
A group of migrants walk towards a Red Cross tent in southern Spain | Photo: Picture Alliance / Zuma Press / Sopa Images / J. Merida

The Conservative Popular Party (PP) has made a deal with the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party to take power in Spain's most populous state. Their coalition will be supported by the anti-immigrant Vox party, which in the past has called for mass deporations of migrants.

Andalusia is where the majority of migrants arrive on Spain’s southern coasts every year. 

The state's new coalition, which took power on Wednesday, January 16, ends 36 years of Socialist party rule in the southern Spanish region. The PP, which won 26 seats, and the Citizens party, which won 21 seats, form a minority coalition. The state legislature is made up of 109 seats, which means that any party needs 55 seats for a majority government. PP and Citizens hope to make up the remaining seats with support from the anti-immigrant party Vox.

Vox was formed by former PP members just five years ago and won 12 seats in the Andalusian election in December 2018. They are the first far-right party to win seats in Spain since right-wing dictator Francisco Franco’s death in 1975.

Striking a deal

In lengthy negotiations since the December elections, Vox made a list of 19 proposals, many of which were rejected by the PP. The PP was reported as saying that some of the Vox demands were "unacceptable nonsense." One proposal that was accepted, however, was to tighten up action against illegal immigration. In return, Vox will vote with the PP and Citizens in the regional parliament. Vox had also proposed mass deportations but that is not part of its current deal with the coalition. 

The PP government said in a statement that they were focused on fighting corruption and creating jobs, in a region hit by unemployment and poverty. A respect for democracy and support for bullfighting and flamenco are also mentioned in the new deal. 

A step backwards?

Some politicians and commentators have been worried about the deal that PP and Citizens have struck with Vox, a party that has called for an end to "supremacist feminism and gender totalitarianism." France's Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, reportedly told Spanish radio network Cadena SER early in January that she found the initial demands from Vox representatives "very worrying" and that "everything should be done to fight extremism."

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called out the move to the right by the PP and Citizens following their deal with Vox. He has vowed to counter a drift "towards sexism and xenophobia" and to keep preparing Spain "for the future – even if others insist on looking back towards the past."

 

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