MADRID (Reuters) – A far-right party will hold a share of power in Spain for the first time since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, with the Vox party securing a place in a coalition running the regional government in Castile and Leon.
Alonso Fernandez Mañueco, the incoming regional president from the conservative People’s Party (PP), announced the agreement on Twitter just before the new regional parliament was assembled for its first session. The PP won just over a third of the votes in an election in February, meaning it had to seek a coalition partner.
Fernandez Mañueco promised “a stable and solid government with full respect for constitutional order” and the region’s autonomy statute.
Vox regional leader Juan Garcia-Gallardo called the coalition deal “sensible.. without winners or losers”. He added in a Twitter meassage, “Let us all work together, with a willingness for dialogue and agreement, to achieve a legislature that benefits citizens”.
Vox was launched in 2014 and is now the third largest party in the national parliament, cutting into the PP’s vote share. The PP is the country’s leading opposition party and has traditionally alternated power with the currently ruling Socialists, but seen its support eroded by corruption scandals.
Vox campaigns to repeal a law banning Franco-era symbols and legislation inspired by feminism.
It also seeks to end Spain’s quasi-federal organisation, whereby the regions independently administer key policies such as health and education, and wants to return Spain to the centralist form of government that existed during the dictatorship.
Fernandez Mañueco’s words about respecting Castile and Leon’s autonomous status apparently sought to fend off any attempt by VOX to dilute that.
Vox’s ascent to regional governance is another gain for the far right in Europe, which has extended support in France, Italy and Portugal. It could foreshadow another rise in support in Andalusia, Spain’s most populous region, which will hold elections in the coming months.
The last time the far right held power in Spain was through the 1937 merging of the Falange Fascists with other traditionalist factions into a single-party system that lasted until Francisco Franco’s death in 1975.
(Reporting by Belén Carreño; Editing by Aislinn Laing and Frances Kerry)