Over the weekend, people across Spain cast their vote in the fourth general election in as many years. While no political party came close to achieving the majority (the Socialist PSOE leading the vote with 120 seats out of the required 176), one party certainly had cause for celebration. Vox, a far-right party that only came into the Spanish political scene with any real gusto last year, more than doubled its seats to come third overall in the elections.
Their rising popularity, particularly amongst the younger voters in Spain, then begs the question: is a step to the right actually a step towards the future? I would argue the opposite. With their outdated politics concerning women, regional autonomy and immigrant communities in Spain, Vox would risk overstepping a constitutional line and plunging Spain back into a time of repressive politics reminiscent of the Franco era should their rising popularity ever convert to a majority.
Controversial to the extreme, their stance on women’s rights include repealing the 2004 Gender Violence Law, shutting down feminist organisations and opposing the right to abortion. This latter issue has come to the forefront of global conversation in recent years. While the legalisation of abortion in Ireland this year was a historic victory for pro-choice campaigners, events in America and Argentina speak of an opposite trend. Indeed, waves of outrage resonated around the globe after politicians in Texas sought to pass a bill which would equate abortion to homicide, a crime that carries the penalty of death in the state.
Is the rise of far-right parties inevitable, then? The example of Vox would, perhaps, indicate yes. Their arrival onto the political scene in December last year was no small matter. In fact, it marked the first time since the restoration of democracy in Spain in 1976 that a far-right party had won seats in a regional election. This, coupled with the success of Marine Le Pen and Le Front National in the French elections two years ago (Le Front National reached the second round of voting for only the second time in party history) and the divisive effects of Brexit, suggests a rising intolerance towards tolerance. That’s even without mentioning Trump and his wall.
Women’s rights, LGBT+ rights, immigrant rights and more are all under attack from this rising trend of hatred, and we, the voters, are the ones who are enabling it. With Britain set to vote in December and American candidates gearing up for the 2020 presidential elections, it will be interesting to see which way the political winds of change blow.