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Spanish right hardens anti-immigration discourse

Barcelona mayor warns of “racist" comments by People’s Party’s new leader and compares him with Italy’s Matteo Salvini


30 July 2018 06:36 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Spain has long been seen as a bulwark against the anti-immigration discourse that took hold in several European countries with the rise of far-right parties. Yet, a change in leadership in the main conservative party seems to have hardened stances, both in the People’s Party (PP) and their until recently parliament ally Ciutadans (Cs).

A tweet by the Spanish People’s Party’s (PP) new leader, Pablo Casado, showed a shift in discourse. “It’s not possible for everybody to have documents, and it’s not sustainable for our welfare state to absorb millions of Africans who want to come to Europe and we must say it, even though it’s not politically correct. Let’s be real and responsible in this regard.”

Several political leaders responded to Casado’s tweet on social media. The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, compared Casado to the Italian home affairs minister Matteo Salvini and said that “normalizing such discourses is the first step towards the destruction of Europe and of democracy itself.”

An MP for pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and pro-refugees activist Rubén Wagensberg warned that “racism is advancing" and labeled Casado’s discourse as “openly far-right.”

Casado’s tweet was seen as a response to the surging numbers of migrants arriving to Spain, as well as the more allowing stance adopted by the new president, the Socialist Pedro Sánchez.

Last June, Sánchez decided to offer a safe harbor to 630 migrants stranded in the Mediterranean after Italy and Malta rejected them. One of his first major moves since coming to power, Sánchez’s decision was seen as an attempt to distance himself from the legacy of his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy. Yet, Casado is not alone in calling for greater border control.

  • “If we want a Europe without internal borders, we need to protect the external borders"

    Albert Rivera · Ciutadans leader

The leader of Cs, Albert Rivera, announced a trip to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, in the north of Africa, to “listen and support the police and Guardia Civil officers" that work there. “If we want a Europe without internal borders, we need to protect the external borders.”

Rivera said that the government’s “do-goodism" had a “pull effect" that led to a rise in the number of migrants arriving in the Spanish shores.

With more than 20,000 arrivals last June, Spain has become the largest recipient of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe, according to the Catalan Commission for Refugees. Yet, the number of people arriving in Europe as a whole has fallen considerably since last year.


  • People's Party new leader Pablo Casado (by ACN)

  • People's Party new leader Pablo Casado (by ACN)