Why did the far-right Vox party do so well in Catalonia?
After this weekend's elections in Catalonia the Vox party has entered the regional parliament, marking the first time a far-right party has done so since 1982. Vox won 7.7 percent from a standing start, securing eleven seats and also overtaking the conservative People's Party (PP), which received only three seats. Vox's campaign focused among other things on countering the "Islamisation of Catalonia". Commentators discuss the reasons for the party's success.
Getting too cosy with the far right doesn't pay off
The established parties have paved the way for Vox's rise, El Periódico de Catalunya comments with annoyance:
“For many years, Spain was an anomaly among European liberal democracies in that no far-right party was represented in its institutions. Now it is an anomaly for the opposite reason: while in countries like Germany or France people have understood that instrumentalising the far right only strengthens it, in Spain both sides of the ideological spectrum are trying to profit from the rise of Vox. On the right, the PP made embarrassing pacts and posed at joint demos until it realised that giving the far right's arguments a veneer of normality would only strengthen it and weaken the conservative and liberal parties. And the left also tried to use Vox as a bogeyman to divide the right-wing parties.”
Struggle for independence has been the best fertiliser
Catalonian separatism has fueled Spanish nationalism, notes Karin Janker, Madrid correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung:
“Already Vox leader Santiago Abascal is promising that his party will soon be 'the strongest national force in Catalonia'. And he could be right ... He knows that the best breeding ground for his nationalism is the political rigidity that separatism has caused by dividing society into two camps: those in favour of an independent Catalonia - and everyone else. The triumph of the right in Catalonia is the result of a dangerous escalation. ... For a long time it looked as if the right-wing populists had no chance in Catalonia. ... But Abascal's party had time to grow: the independence process was its most productive fertiliser.”