Extremist Vox excluded from Spanish election debate
The extremist Vox party in Spain has been barred from taking part in the only TV debate ahead of the April 28 general election.
The Central Electoral Board (JEC) said the decision was based on the anti-migrant party’s poor performance in the 2016 election and because several regional parties had been excluded.
Three regional parties from Catalonia, the Basque Country and the Canary Islands complained that they were being left out.
State broadcaster TVE planned to include Vox alongside four more established parties for a debate five days before the election.
Vox performed well in Andalusia’s regional election in December, winning nearly 11 per cent of the vote and 12 seats in the southern region, where immigration is a sensitive issue. It had been expected to win five seats.
Ever-unreliable polling suggests Vox could gain around 10-per-cent support in the general election.
The scheduled debate on April 23 was the only one in which the Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has committed to taking part. The other parties are the conservative Popular Party, the left-wing Unidas Podemos and the centrist Ciudadanos (Citizens Party).
The PP said giving Vox national airtime could be a grievous mistake.
“When the left conjures up monsters, the monsters end up devouring the left,” said one PP source of Vox.
The JEC has ruled that only parties with at least 5 per cent of votes at the previous general election could participate in the debates.
Vox obtained 0.2 per cent of the vote in 2016. Election officials said its presence would violate the rights of Catalan and Basque parties, whose leaders were not invited.
Founded in 2014, Vox made little impact before the Andalusian election in December.
Vox has been seen as far-right and populist, anti-migrant and anti-Muslim. Its leader Santiago Abascal (pictured) believes its surge of support is because the party is “in step with what millions of Spaniards think”.
The party’s leadership rejects its extremist label, insisting it is a party of “extreme necessity” not extremism. Its general support for Spanish membership of the European Union differs from many populist parties elsewhere in Europe.
Vox says it wants to “make Spain great again” but critics have described its ideology and nationalism as an echo of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.
Vox leader Santiago Abascal. Picture credit: Wikimedia