Analysis. The resistance of the progressive electorate, which was likely mobilized precisely after seeing the advent of so many local governments including the far right, has thrown all the plans into disarray.

The neo-Francoist Vox party dreamed of governing but now risks imploding

The far-right party Vox, which had been dreaming in recent weeks of triumphantly joining a future government in Spain, has just had to face its first electoral drubbing.

It came in third in the vote, although only a little above the left-wing Sumar, but its representation in Congress has shrunk. With 12.4 percent of the vote, it will get 33 deputies, 19 fewer than in the 2019 elections (when it got 52 with 15.2 percent of the vote).

Vox did not aspire to electoral victory, but to becoming indispensable for the People’s Party (PP) to achieve an absolute majority. However, it ran into trouble on both fronts: its own result was disappointing, and the PP’s result also fell short of their expectations. The two parties together are far from a majority.

Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, had been boasting of a possible presence in a future government since June. After the local elections on May 28, many coalitions between the Popular Party and the ultra-right had emerged across Spain in numerous municipalities and regions.

Having seen his party enter many regional and municipal governments, the ultraconservative leader could already imagine himself as vice-prime minister in a national government. It would have been the most right-wing executive since the end of Franco’s dictatorship, something that would have made Italian Prime Minister Meloni very happy, as she has been seeking new international alliances that would carry enough weight to shift the balance in the European institutions.

This prospect has now become very unlikely. The resistance of the progressive electorate, which was likely mobilized precisely after seeing the advent of so many local governments including the far right, has thrown all the plans into disarray.

Rubbing salt in the wound for Vox in the aftermath of the vote is the fact that the left-wing forces (PSoE and Sumar), even though their combined total is only 153 deputies, have a better chance of forming a government than the right-wing bloc, thanks to the possible and potential support of the Catalan and Basque pro-independence parties, the same ones that the ultraconservative party would like to ban altogether if it got into government.

“I’d like to point out something that’s bad news for many Spaniards,” commented Vox founder Santiago Abascal after the results. “Despite losing the election, Pedro Sánchez can block the formation of a new government. Worse still, Pedro Sánchez could even be invested as prime minister with the help of communists, [Catalan] independence supporters and terrorists,” he added, referring, in his usual style, to forces to the left of PSoE and the Catalan and Basque parties.

Catalonia has always been the first concern for Vox, which arose in 2013 as a split-off from the PP, openly opposing Rajoy’s line, which Abascal thought was too soft on the independence supporters.

Also on Vox’s agenda, in addition to the suspension of the autonomy of the Catalan region, is the dismantling of the regional autonomy that has been in place since the 1980s. Thus, the emergence of a leftist government thanks to regional forces would be the sovereignist party’s worst nightmare.

By failing to enter a national government, it risks losing relevance and seeing itself engulfed little by little by the PP, a possibility that is even more likely if Isabel Díaz Ayuso becomes the head of Spain’s main conservative party in the future. The president of the Madrid autonomous region since 2019, Ayuso has been a kind of shadow leader of the PP in recent years, and as president of the capital region has engaged in full-on conflict with the central government, managing to win the regional elections twice (in 2021 and 2023).

Her charisma and “Madrid-style Trumpism” could become a problem for Abascal’s men in the future, stealing votes away from Vox, as has happened in the Madrid region.

Vox’s loss of deputies also has more immediate consequences. The far-right party will no longer be able to file appeals of unconstitutionality before the Constitutional Court or file motions of no confidence in the government (it has filed two since 2019). Thus, the far-right party loses a weapon that it had used several times before.

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