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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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Voting begins in Spanish snap election marked by far-right resurgence

Polls predict far-right party Vox could take more than 10% of the votes.

Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist Party candidate Pedro Sanchez casts his vote
Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist Party candidate Pedro Sanchez casts his vote
Image: Bernat Armangue via PA Images

PEOPLE IN SPAIN have begun voting in a snap general election marked by a resurgence of the far-right after more than four decades on the outer margins of politics.

Opinion polls give outgoing socialist premier Pedro Sanchez a win, however, the indications are that he will not secure a majority to govern alone. 

The far-right party Vox, which burst onto the scene in December regional polls in southern Andalusia, could take more than 10% of the votes in the country, poll predict. 

As a result, it looks set to make its first-ever entrance into the national parliament.

Spain has had no far-right party to speak of since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, in what is likely to cause further concern in Europe.

Polling stations opened at 9am (7am Irish time) and will close at pm (6pm Irish time), with results announced later today.

Far-right surge

Sanchez took power in June after ousting conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote.

He has warned against Spain replicating what happened in Finland’s elections two weeks ago.

In Finland, the far-right Finns Party came second, closely tailing the leftist Social Democrats, after polls initially predicted it would end up in fifth position.

In Spain, polls also forecast that Vox, with its ultra-nationalist rhetoric that advocates the “defence of the Spanish nation to the end,” will come in fifth place.

However, analysts believe it could do better, saying there may be many “hidden” Vox supporters who lie when asked by pollsters who they will be voting for.

“There is a real, true risk,” Sanchez said this week.

He warned that a right-wing government supported by Vox could emerge in Spain after the elections, even if opinion polls say this is unlikely.

Catalonia shadow

Vox was founded by a former member of the conservative Popular Party (PP) and it has a strong stance against feminism and illegal immigration.

The party has risen thanks to its hard line against separatists in Catalonia.

The region in northeastern Spain was the scene of a secession attempt in 2017 that sparked the country’s biggest crisis in decades and caused major concern in Europe.

Since then, the crisis has continued to cast a pall over Spanish politics.

Sanchez was forced to call today’s early elections after Catalan pro-independence lawmakers in the national parliament, angered at the trial of their leaders in Madrid, refused to give him the support he needed for his 2019 budget.

Right-wing parties have for their part lambasted Sanchez, at the head of a minority government, for his attempts to negotiate with Catalan separatists who still govern the region, accusing him of being a traitor.

No party is expected to get anywhere near an absolute majority and, as a result, Spain’s fragmented landscape looks set to continue. 

If, as opinion polls predict, Sanchez wins without a majority, he will have to forge alliances with far-left Podemos – as he did over the past 10 months — but also possibly smaller groupings like Catalan separatist parties.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2019

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