In Sunday’s general election in Spain, one of the most relevant questions concerns the possibility that the Popular Party (PP), the historic force of the Spanish center-right which according to various polls will be the party with the most votes, form a coalition government with Vox, a very radical far-right party. For the far right, it would be the first time in the national government in Spain since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (the period called “Francoism”, which ran from 1939 to 1975). However, it would not be an alliance ever seen. In the last year it has happened several times at the local level with the aim of reaching the majority in individual regions where otherwise the PP alone would not have had the numbers to govern.
The most recent case was that of the autonomous community of Valencia, in eastern Spain (the autonomous communities are roughly our regions, even if with greater autonomy). In the local elections last May Vox had obtained an excellent result, with a candidate who in 2002 had been condemned for violence and persecution against his ex-wife. After lengthy negotiations, the party had entered the government of the region together with the PP (the condemned candidate, however, had been ousted at the request of the Popolari).
The first a regional coalition government between the PP and Vox was formed in 2022 in the Castilla-León region in western Spain. This had attracted particulars attentionsgiven that just under two years earlier the then leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, had attacked Vox on several occasions defining it as a populist party that peddled “easy, and usually false, solutions to complex problems”, emphasizing its difference with Vox and quite categorically excluding their political union.
Another case in which the PP and Vox finally formed a coalition was in Extremadura, a region in southwest Spain: this was achieved in ways that are partly representative of both the need and the difficulties for the PP to form alliances with Vox.
About a month ago, during her electoral campaign, the leader of the regional PP María Guardiola had made a very hard speech against Vox, attacking him for his positions on gender equality and violence, what he had called a “de-humanization of migrants” and attacks against the LGBTQ+ community. Also in that case Guardiola had very categorically ruled out a possible government coalition with Vox.
Last week Guardiola took office as president of Extremadura, finally agreeing to form a coalition with Vox and saying that “my word is not as important as the future of the people of Extremadura”: without the coalition, in fact, he would not have had the numbers to govern.
The decision of the PP to form local alliances with Vox was considered in some ways quite “natural”, in the sense that in recent years Vox has gradually increased its electoral support, and for the Popolari, who have government ambitions at all levels, it was necessary to find allies somewhere. However, the PP has also been heavily criticized for abandoning more centrist positions and agreeing to give political space to a party considered anti-democratic and obscurantist.
As for Sunday’s political elections, the polls are still very uncertain and it is not clear how the negotiations could go if Vox and PP obtain a majority in parliament. However, coalition experiences at the local level have shown how an alliance between the two parties is not only possible, but also convenient and necessary for the PP to be able to govern.