Posted on June 21, 2023

Once Scorned, Far Right Secures Foothold in Spanish Cities

Constant Meheut, New York Times, June 19, 2023

Spain’s far right took office in a string of Spanish cities and in a powerful region over the weekend by forging coalition agreements with the moderate right, in a move that may foreshadow a broader alliance to govern the country after next month’s general elections.

The agreements came about three weeks after the center-right Popular Party crushed Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s left-wing coalition in regional and local elections. To secure control of dozens of cities, the Popular Party struck coalition deals with the far-right Vox, which also performed well, embracing part of the party’s nationalist, anti-migrant agenda.

Both parties will now govern together in some 25 cities of more than 30,000 residents, including five regional capitals, giving Vox, a party once considered anathema by most voters, crucial political leverage. They have also teamed up to run the wealthy Valencia region, which accounts for 10 percent of Spain’s population.

“It’s something completely new, both in terms of extent and depth,” Sandra León, a political analyst at Carlos III University in Madrid, said of the alliances. “It opens up a new path, a new period in the right-wing bloc.”

The growing popularity of Vox, which is already the third-largest political force in the Spanish Parliament, has coincided with the rise of the far right in Europe, at a time when the continent is grappling with fierce identity debates, the economic fallout of a pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine.


While municipal councils had to be formed by Saturday, regional governments have more time, and new agreements between Vox and the Popular Party could be reached in the next few days {snip}

Ms. León, the political analyst, said the local coalition agreements would help Vox, a party created only a decade ago, gain experience in running cities and provide it with resources to consolidate its organizational base. But she added that the most important outcome of the agreements is that they “have paved the way” for an alliance at the national level.

Most polls show the Popular Party, also known by its initials PP, winning most votes in the early general elections that Mr. Sánchez has called for next month. But it would require an alliance with Vox to be able to form a government, a possibility that Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the Popular Party leader, has not ruled out.

“Such clear pacts have been concluded between Vox and the PP” at the local level, Ms. León said, that “we already know they will ally” after the national elections.