democraciaAbierta

The extreme right international movement gets ready to fight its next battle in Spain

Hours before the closing of the campaign, an investigation by openDemocracy reveals the widespread international coordination behind the rise of Spanish far right Vox party Español.

Francesc Badia oficial.jpg
Francesc Badia i Dalmases
25 April 2019
Participants seen with flags of Vox and Spain during an event in Leganés, Madrid, Spain. April 6, 2019. Photo by Jesus Hellin/SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.

Surveys show an imminent explosion of ultra-right party Vox in the legislative elections for the Spanish parliament this Sunday the 28th April. Whatever the final result of Sunday’s polls might be, this is a worrying and disruptive revelation in a context where the Spanish political system is in flux since 2014.

A success of the far right, after years of continuous defeat, might disintegrate the resistance demonstrated until now in Spain against the rise of illiberalism across Europe, in a global context in which populism has taken on a nationalistic, revisionist and authoritarian character and currently holds power in an ever increasing number of nations across the world.

It is vital therefore that the world takes note of the revelations regarding international funding of right-wing groups campaigns in Europe through opaque financing schemes that are often illegal in nature, information that has come to light thanks to an investigation by openDemocracy.

These revelations point out the widespread international support that Vox has received. We are witnessing a “Vox-phenomenon” that has not risen as naturally and spontaneously as many would think. Many political commentators have suggested that it was only a matter of time until Spain followed suit and joined its fellow European nations in succumbing to the strong stream of far-right movements, however it was not so inevitable.

A success of the far right, after years of continuous defeat, might disintegrate the resistance demonstrated until now in Spain against the rise of illiberalism across Europe.

We cannot ignore the sociological realities of a country that is, in the European context, and against the general wisdom, one of the most progressive of the region and the world regarding issues relating to gender equality, sexual minorities rights, multiculturalism and the welcoming of refugees.

In Spain, for example, the promotion of LGBT+ rights and the adoption of policies that strive for gender equality, favourite targets of the far-right, were taken on by the entire parliamentary spectrum with little nuances. An absolute rejection of immigration, one of the central topics of the far-right movements in Europe, has also failed to gain real traction in the Mediterranean country.

For decades, the Popular Party was able to unite the whole conservative spectrum of Spain, from centrist christian democrats to the most out-dated, pro-Franco radical right, which allowed for the neutralisation of radical tendencies and for the PP to create a centre-right governing hegemony in almost all the Spanish territory.

Despite the more conservative wing often pressuring the party towards more extreme positions particularly regarding abortion and the LGBT+ community, electoral logic always determined that the party was more centre-leaning particularly in decisive moments. Even the more ultra-conservative movements like the Opus Dei, in spite of this, would remain clear regarding their only option when approaching the polls would be the PP.

However the Popular Party, worn down by a huge corruption scandal, certified by the many prominent officials now facing long years in jail, and unable to approach the deep constitutional crisis caused by the radicalisation of Catalan national populists, now faces huge difficulties in maintaining its traditional role of being home of all the Spanish conservative spectrum.

Inventing an imperial, glorious and golden past, white-washing dictatorships, contaminating political discourse with deliberate falsehood that destroys all sense of truth, are fascist strategies whose objective is to destroy democracy from the inside.

The growth of the liberal centre-right Ciudadanos' party was the first threat to this hegemony, a party born in Catalonia as a response to the independence movement. Catalan nationalism radicalisation was too good an opportunity for the Ciudadanos' party to pass up: the party grew significantly among nationalist Spaniards humiliated by the Catalan pro-independence radical movement, and its discourse largely focused on a hard-line approach towards the ‘independentistas’.

This popularity was more apparent than ever during the recent Catalan regional elections where anti-independence forces came out on top in votes and seats, gathering more that 25% of the votes. During the first semester of 2018, the Citizen’s party was first in polls for voting intentions in Spain, attracting many former PP supporters.

However, in autumn of 2018, a new competitor arose to the right-wing of the PP called Vox, which welcomed those nostalgic of Franco’s dictatorship and subscribers to the new ultra-right movements of Europe. In 2013, a small group of no real political capacity formed, however they soon received a donation of 800,000 euros from a dark Irani dissident group in exile in light of the European elections, in which they failed to achieve any representation. Despite their repeated failures, Vox did achieve certain notoriety due to their role of public accusations in court cases that attracted media attention.

The investigation reveals the dangerous connections between Vox and a much deeper conspiracy; this looks to provide international support to different ultra-right parties, from Vox in Spain to the ultra-right in Italy, Germany or Hungary, which will soon elect representatives to the European Parliament on the 24th of May.

openDemocracy’s article about CitizenGo, the ultra-conservative platform born in the same year as Vox, reveals a scheme of hidden, dark financing of the party through electoral financing (in the same vein as the super-CAPs in the US) fed with the money of ultraconservatives from Russia and the US. The investigation reveals the dangerous connections between Vox and a much deeper global conspiracy. This phenomenon looks to provide international support to different ultra-right parties, from Vox in Spain to the ultra-right in Italy, Germany or Hungary, which will soon elect representatives to the European Parliament on the 24th of May.

Inventing an imperial, glorious and golden past, white-washing dictatorships, contaminating political discourse with deliberate falsehood that destroys all sense of truth, utilising what Hanna Arendt called “organised lying”, are fascist strategies whose objective is to destroy democracy from the inside. The inflammatory discourse of Vox has effectively poisoned political campaigning in Spain. It mimics the models used by other ultra-right parties, which increasing coordination of action at different levels threatens political stability across the continent and the European project itself.

The result of the Spanish elections could be a warning as to what could occur in Europe in a month from now. If Vox obtains enough votes this Sunday to condition the new government in Spain (as it has already managed to do in Andalusia), or if it manages to replace one or more of the parties of national outreach now seating in parliament and become the fourth of even third political group, it will join the assault on the European Parliament together with those who despise the democratic values of the European Union.

However, even with electoral success or access to government, neither Vox nor the rest of today’s radicalised conservative parties will find an easy way overcome the tolerant and progressive nature of Spaniards, which has become, against all odds, an identity of the Spanish society of the 21st century.

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