Spanish PM vows to defend democracy and Europe after far-Right’s shock surge in Andalusia

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Monday vowed to defend democracy and Europe after the far-Right party Vox’s shock election surge to become kingmaker in the country’s most populous region.

The five-year-old anti-immigration and Eurosceptic party came from the political nowhere to win 12 seats out of 109 in the Andalusian election on Sunday, the first time it has made inroads into a regional parliament. 

The surprise result – the first such achievement by a far Right party since the end of the Franco dictatorship four decades ago – rattled the Socialist government in Madrid.

Mr Sánchez vowed to “defend the Constitution and democracy against fear” in reference to Vox’s radical stance on issues such as immigration, abortion and women’s rights. His government would continue working on a "pro-European project" for Spain, he said on Twitter.

Vox’s ballot box wins almost certainly mean an end to the Socialist PSOE’s decades-long rule in Andalusia. Neither a standard-issue coalition between the PSOE – which sunk to its lowest ever victory margin in the region with just 33 seats – and Left-wing Podemos,  nor a conservative alliance between the Popular Party (PP) and centre-Right Ciudadanos can now muster a majority.  

But those mainstream political parties have differing viewpoints on the desirability of a kingmaker party with policies that include the mass expulsion of illegal immigrants, banning abortion and repealing legislation that protects women from violence.  

The Andalusian and national leaders of Vox, Francisco Serrano and Santiago Abascal, after the shock result in Spain's most populous regionCredit:
Europa Press

Acting Andalusian President Susana Díaz pleaded with other moderate political forces to join her in a united front against the ultra-conservative Vox.

Both the PP and Ciudadanos have seized on the prospect of turfing the Socialists out of power for the first time since Andalusia’s regional government was installed in 1982. But while the PP said it would accept the support of Vox to take office, Ciudadanos displayed reticence. 

“We are going to take on the challenge of forming a government in Andalusia,” said PP leader Pablo Casado after his party finished second behind the PSOE with 26 seats, snubbing the Socialists’ call for a cross-bench coalition. “We have nothing to discuss with the PSOE.”

But third-placed Ciudadanos argued that the new government in Andalusia had to come from the centre of the political spectrum, It called on the PP to back their candidate and for the Socialists to stand aside and abstain, thus making Vox’s support unnecessary.

Vox’s chief candidate in Andalusia, Francisco Serrano, suggested that his party would support a right-of-centre coalition in Andalusia, although the party is meeting later in the week to decide on its strategy before official talks take place. “We will not be an obstacle to ending the Socialist regime,” he said.  

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