Amongst the seemingly ever rising far right movement in Europe, despite all the tumultuous events that have been occurring in Spain recently, the rise of an extreme right party was not something that Spanish and European citizens predicted as happening anytime soon. And yet nonetheless, Vox was the first party to do so.
Sending shockwaves across the country, the elections in Andalucia were the first elections in which Vox managed to secure their first members of parliament. Although the left-wing PSOE was the most voted party, an alliance between the right-wing party currently in power (PP) and Vox, meant that Andalucia was governed by a right-wing alliance for the first time in 36 years.
But in what does Vox believe? And more importantly, why are Spanish citizens voting for them? As one would do to find out more about this new party’s proposals, I began reading through its official electoral program. What I read truly worried me. Although it is not unusual for political parties to contradict themselves these days, these claims were at points so contradictory it was almost amusing, if it weren’t for the fact that their aim is to actually govern Spain. Their program is summed into 100 short bullet points, which they market as their new proposal to “make Spain alive”.
Immediately their first point is to take a jab at the Catalan government, calling their attempt at a referendum a putsch and the politicians putschists. Interesting choice of words that I will not delve into. To solve the undeniable divide that exists between Catalans and the rest of the Spanish citizens, they proposed to remove the current federal government that has been in place since the signing of the Spanish Constitution of 1978. There is no hint at dialogue to try to understand where the discontent in Cataluña is coming from, and instead, their solution is, well, you can’t have conflict between the federal states if you just get rid of the federal states. One perhaps key aspect that might have missed Vox’s final review of their program was that, were it not for the federal system currently in place and the federal elections that are held, they wouldn’t have gained any seats in parliament, so it was quite baffling to read a proposal aimed to eliminate the very same system that allowed them to even be on the map in the first place.
Another eye-catching proposal was the reclaiming of Gibraltar. Why, I hear you say? The reason is uncertain, but what is for sure is that the general secretary of Vox, Jose Ortega, can tell you all about his great odyssey in 2016, when he swam, yes you read correctly, swam, all the way to Gibraltar, and climbed to the top of a mountain to place a Spanish flag on its peak. In fact, he recounts this great epic in such a theatrical way that its almost hard to believe that he’s being serious. If you feel like grabbing some popcorn and hearing the tale of this great Spanish hero, please don’t hesitate to read his interviews on the incident. Truly some great content.
On a much more serious note, they followed on with the immediate derogation of the law of “Historic Memory”. This was a law put in place to allow victims of persecution in the past to be recognised. Amongst its measures, it allowed their relatives to petition for their bodies to be buried with decency by retrieving them from mass graves, it prohibited public symbolism of Franco’s fascist dictatorship and recognised that sentences under Franco’s regime were unjust and prejudiced against non-fascists.
But Vox is a well-rounded party, not only drawing inspiration from the fascist past, but also keeping up to date with Trump-ist latest tendencies. Apparently in Vox’s eyes, it is also imperative to raise an uncrossable wall between Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish cities in north Africa) and Morocco.
In regards to their immigration policies, their proposals include prohibiting immigrants from ever obtaining legal status in Spain were he or she to enter the country irregularly, for life. This means that any immigrant entering the country, for example in a dinghy, would never be able to settle in the country, or receive any sort of help, including medical help.
This effectively means that hot returns would not be illegal. Hot returns is a term describing the practise of returning immigrants without carrying out the legally established procedures or meeting the internationally acknowledged guarantees to their country of origin. Images, witnesses and other numerous sources with evidential value accredit such practices in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the small islands under Spanish sovereignty. It is a practise that has been deemed illegal by both European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations.
But perhaps the most worrying measure proposed on the topic of immigration, is the notion of nationality quotas. Strongly reminiscent of the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 in the States, their proposal would prioritise Spanish speaking immigrants and immigrants from countries with ties to Spain over other countries of origins and establish tight quotas on other nationalities.
The final questionable proposal on the topic under this section was the urge to publish all data on nationality and origin regarding statistics of crime in Spain. Under the 14th article of the Spanish constitution, all citizens have the right to no discrimination, so publishing this data would not only be a violation of privacy, but also an attempt to scapegoat different nationalities of people living in Spain by portraying them as criminals.
Reading through their 100 points for a more renovated Spain, all I saw was a perfect recipe for a backwards, xenophobic country, much like the one we had during Franco’s dictatorship. Why would anyone vote for these reforms? Is it that easy for us to forget how damaging it was for Spain when the outlook was extremism, black and white division and complete disregard for dialogue? Are we sure we really want history to repeat itself in that way? What is certain is that no attempts to derogate our historic memory will definitely not erase the mistakes of our fascist past, and I would much rather learn from them than to repeat them.