Spain election polls: Right-wing nationalists in breakthrough surge – crisis brews

Spain’s general election will be held on Sunday, April 28 and will elect the 13th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. In total, all 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies will be up for election, as well as 208 of 266 seats in the Senate. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said he will act with “strength and proportion” against any Catalan separatists who try to repeat their 2017 independence bid.

Catalonia’s failed attempt at withdrawing from Spain and Madrid’s strategy with the area has become a talking point of ahead of the election.

However, recent polls show that a coalition of right-wing, unionist parties could seize a majority in parliament.

Prime Minister Sanchez told Hoy newspaper: “If we see the laws of the constitution or the Statute of Autonomy in Catalonia broken once more, the state of law led by this government will act with strength and proportion against any challenge.”

Should this happen, Mr Sanchez has said he may apply direct rule to Catalonia, which would be a repeat of the decision former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took when he took control of the regional government during the secession crisis in 2017.

When asked if he would use the Article 155 law to take control Mr Sanchez said: “It’s an article of the constitution.

“And we are a government that is going to apply the constitution and make sure it is followed throughout the country.”

One nationalist party gaining strength is the newly formed Vox Party, spearheaded by Santiago Abascal. 

Vox was founded six years ago by unhappy members of the conservative People’s Party (PP) and was previously viewed as a small group on the periphery.

However, that changed in December last year when Vox massively exceeded all expectations and took 12 seats in the Andalucían regional election.

Mr Abascal aimed to fly “the flag of Spain and of liberty” across the country and to take the fight to the “illegitimate” socialist government, an administration propped up by parties he dubbed “separatists, populists and friends of terrorists”.

The 12 seats gained in Andalucía resulted in the incumbent Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) out of office in what had been its traditional stronghold.

The rise in Vox has stemmed from mainly the Catalan independence crisis, but also from culture wars over feminism, political correctness and re-centralisation.

Vox gaining seats in 2018 also confirmed the emergence of the party, the influence and subsequent rise in other right-wing parties. 

In Spain’s general elections later this month, PSOE is on course to receive the most votes but is likely to fall short of a majority. 

This means there is a threat of a “triple-right” alliance between PP, Citizens and Vox, who could form a national government. 

The culture wars over feminism, political correctness and re-centralisation have sent both the PP and Citizens to the right.

Mr Sanchez told The Guardian: “There’s nothing in the least new about this – the far-right has always existed in Spain. 

“Yes, it’s worrying, but it’s not the biggest worry. Why? Because they’ll never win an election. 

“What troubles me is the way they’re radicalising and swelling the political discourse of the other two conservative parties.”