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Catalan parties warn of ‘extreme Spanish nationalism’ as far-right rises in Andalusia

Vox party enters regional parliament while calling for illegalization of pro-independence groups

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03 December 2018 02:35 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The rise of the far-right in a Spanish regional election has been met with defiance and concern by Catalan parties, after a campaign where Catalonia’s push for independence was used as a political weapon against the ruling Socialist party.

Vox party took 12 seats in the southern region of Andalusia, while defending the suspension of Catalonia’s self-rule and calling for the illegalization of all parties and organizations advocating for independence.

Catalan foreign minister Alfred Bosch warned against the "extreme nationalism on the rise" following Vox’s victory, describing party members as "male chauvinists, racists, and anti-Europeans."

Quim Torra, the president of the pro-independence government in Catalonia, tweeted: "Tonight, more than ever, it’s either freedom or freedom."

With Vox’s rise, the far-right has entered a democratic parliament in Spain for the first time since the Franco dictatorship—a historic milestone that will certainly set the tone for the political debate in the coming months, and could influence whether Spanish president Pedro Sánchez calls a snap election.

The decline of the Socialist party in the region is equally unprecedented. After retaining only 33 seats in its worst result ever, Spain’s ruling party is set to lose control of its bastion for the first time in 36 years.

The conservative People’s Party (PP) and Ciutadans (Cs) welcomed the results and opened the door to a deal with Vox to oust Andalusian president Susana Díaz, with her call for "constitutionalist parties to stop the far-right" falling on deaf ears.

PP and Cs also take on Catalan independence

Just like Vox, both PP and Cs repeatedly referred to the political situation in Catalonia during the campaign, criticizing the Socialist party for adopting a less belligerent approach in the conflict since coming to power in Madrid with the support of pro-independence parties last spring.

Pablo Casado, the leader of PP, promised to form a government in Andalusia to oust the Socialists, and reaffirmed some of the party’s rallying points: backing the police to "defend Spanish borders," "defeating the Catalan independence project," "recovering Spain’s international reputation," and "preventing the revision of Spanish history."

"One day, we’ll tell our children and grandchildren that we defeated the separatists in Catalonia and that change came to Andalusia after 40 years," said Cs leader Albert Rivera following the election results. Inés Arrimadas, Ciutadans leader in Catalonia and the opposition head in the Catalan parliament, who was born in Andalusia, was one of the party’s most active politicians during the campaign.

Pro-independence parties blame Socialists for far right rise

Pro-independence parties suggested that the tough approach on Catalonia led to the rise of the far right, and some also blamed the Socialists for taking sides with the anti-independence bloc.

"The Socialists, PP, and Cs have common fights with VOX. Together they went against Catalan institutions. They legitimized them. Their voracity in fighting against Catalan independence caused them an indigestion of Spanish nationalism," tweeted Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan president exiled in Belgium, prosecuted for declaring independence a year ago.

Left-wing parties: "They shall not pass"

Far-left CUP party called for the solidarity of working-class people "in the face of fascism and intolerance," and added that "neither in Andalusia nor anywhere else, #NoPassaran"—Catalan for the anti-fascist slogan "They shall not pass."

The deputy mayor of Barcelona, Gerardo Pisarello, referred to the victory of a left-wing mayor in Cadiz, saying that "in the midst of Europe's dark night, municipalism resists with the best inheritance from the 15M," a reference to the anti-austerity movement that led to the rise of Podemos in Spain.

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  • Catalan president Quim Torra (right) and vice president Pere Aragonès (by Marta Sierra)

  • Catalan president Quim Torra (right) and vice president Pere Aragonès (by Marta Sierra)