Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Don't believe the mainstream media over-hype about Vox

In the buildup to the Spanish General Election elements of the UK press, especially the BBC, were absolutely determined to talk up the prospects of the far-right party Vox.

But as the results came in a lot of mainstream media hacks failed to adjust to the actual reality. Vox only bagged 10% of the vote and finished 5th, and there were a lot of other extremely important stories, several of them much bigger than the extreme-right gaining a foothold in the Spanish parliament for the first time, but somehow the media continued their fixation on Vox.

In this article I'm going to run through a few of the stories and issues that got lost behind the Vox hype.

PP's worst result ever

Partido Popular are the Spanish version of the Tories. They're the shockingly corrupt, pro-austerity, pro-privatisation, anti-worker, right-wing establishment party who have switched power with PSOE ever since the end of Franco's fascist dictatorship in 1975. They ruled Spain in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, imposing ruinous austerity, overseeing huge unemployment rates, attacking workers rights and individual liberties, and creating an unprecedented exodus of the younger generations who spread across Europe looking for work and opportunities.

On Sunday 28 April 2019 they suffered by far their worst electoral result in their history, collapsing from 32.6% of the vote at the last election in 2016 to just 16.7% and 66 of the 350 seats.

To put the scale of this defeat into perspective their previous worst result was in 1989 when they got 25.8% of the vote and 107 of the seats.

In the UK we can only dream of the Tory vote collapsing in half, and them returning to parliament with less than 20% of the seats in parliament.

PSOE win

PSOE are like the Spanish version of Labour, they're significantly to the left of the PP, but in recent decades they've failed to really live up to the "socialist" name, often opting for Blair-style neoliberalism-lite. They'll generally protect workers and champion socially progressive causes, but when it comes to rolling back privatisation and reversing tax handouts for the mega-rich they're nowhere near living up to their socialist name.

28.7% of the vote and 123 seats in Congress is a long way from the best performance in their history, but since 2014 Spanish politics has fractured from two main parties to five, and finishing 12 points above their nearest rival under these circumstances is not bad at all.

123 seats is still well short of a majority, but it's such a comprehensive lead over their rival parties that it's inconceivable that they won't form the next government.

PSOE majority in the senate

PSOE fell short of winning a majority in congress, but they secured a clear majority in the Spanish senate with 139 of the 265 seats, their first senate majority since 1989, and their best senate performance since they won a senate landslide in 1986.

A first left-wing senate majority in three decades is clearly a huge story, but one that's flown under the radar in a lot of mainstream media coverage, thanks mainly to all the Vox hype.


One of the major reasons for the collapse of PP was the rise of the right-wing Ciudadanos party which formed in Catalonia in 2006, but only really became a party at the national level in 2014.

After absorbing most of the anti-independence vote in the 2017 Catalan regional elections to become the single biggest party in the Catalan parliament, they were projected to do very well in the next General Election, but they've fallen back significantly since their peak in mid-2018 when they were actually leading in multiple polls on almost 30%, to finish in 3rd on 15.9%.

It's still technically the best result in their short history, but in light of the spectacular PP collapse, and where they were in the polls just a year ago, a modest 2.8% increase in their vote is clearly an under-performance.

With 57 seats a PSOE-Ciudadanos coalition is mathematically possible, but highly unlikely given the unpopularity of their leader Albert Rivera with PSOE supporters.

Unidas Podemos

Despite forming a political alliance with another left-wing party (Izquierda Unida) Podemos has fallen back significantly from their high point in 2016 to finish in fourth place with 14.3% of the vote and 42 seats.

Unidas Podemos would have been the most likely coalition partners for PSOE, but they dropped so many seats that even together they're still well short of a majority.

There are many reasons for the Unidas Podemos fallback, including former-PSOE voters going back to their previous allegiance, a lot of bitter public infighting between different internal factions, and some ridiculous behaviour from their leader Pablo Iglesias.

All is not lost though, because although 14.3% of the vote is a poor result compared to their achievments in 2015 and 2016, it's only a fraction behind PP in second, which is hardly terrible for a political party that was only formed in 2014.


Vox are a far-right ultranationalist party that were founded in 2014 by defectors from the ruling PP. Until this election Vox had won nothing at the national level, just a few seats in regional elections.

Bagging 10% of the vote and 24 seats in congress represents a significant stride forward for the extreme-right in Spanish politics, but in reality they're only slightly to the right of PP, they're just more open and overt about their bigotry, misogyny, extreme-right politics, and desire for the centralisation of political power in Madrid than the establishment right-wing party they split away from.

10% is clearly better than the 0.2% they achieved at the previous election, but anyone trying to make out that the story is all about them when 90% of Spanish voters rejected them, and they finished in fifth, with fewer seats than the Catalan Independence parties, is clearly pushing an agenda, rather than reporting the news.

Results in Catalonia

There are two ways of looking at the results in Catalonia. From an independence perspective, and from a left-right perspective.

The left-wing pro-independence Republican Left group won the most votes and most seats for the region.

It's difficult to argue that their popularity hasn't been driven by the fact their leader Oriol Junqueras has been held as a political prisoner by the Spanish state since 2017.

And it's also difficult to argue that a party led by a political prisoner taking a massive historic win isn't a huge story that should at least have got a look in instead of the Vox over-hype.

Anti-independence PSOE came second in Catalonia and the more neutral Podemos group in the Catalan region slipped to 3rd, meaning all three of the most popular parties in Catalonia are on the left or centre-left.

The right-wing Ciudadanos party had an absolute disaster coming in 5th, less than a year and a half after coming first in the Catalan regional elections.

PP collapsed to 6th place bagging just 4.9% of the Catalan vote, meaning that they're essentially a dead political force there, which is hardly surprising given their former leader Mariano Rajoy's ridiculously arrogant and incompetent mishandling of the independence issue back in 2017.

Coalition or minority government?

Since PSOE and Unidas Podemos have fallen just short of enough seats to build a majority, they'll need support from smaller regional parties. The Catalan Republican Left party have 15 seats, but it's unlikely they'd collaborate without significant concessions, including the possibility of an officially sanctioned Catalan independence referendum.

The other option is for PSOE to go it alone as a minority government, then call another general election if the opposition parties vote down their budget again. Obstructionism would be a bold move from the likes of PP and Ciudadanos given that the political momentum is with PSOE.

It's hard to see how PP and Ciudadanos wouldn't be punished by the electorate if they forced the Spanish people into a 4th General Election in the space of four years through obstructionist tactics.

The Spanish right is split

It's often the case in politics that splits in the opposition end up handing power to the political right, but in Spain in 2019 the right has splintered into three (PP, Ciudadanos, Vox), while the left vote is divided between two (PSOE, Unidas Podemos).

The reason PP have collapsed so badly is that their vote is being eroded from both sides. Vox have pinched 2 million+ votes from PP by pushing far-right ultranationalist bigotry, while Ciudadanos have pinched a significant proportion of "centre-right" PP voters.

Between the three right-wing parties they bagged 42.9% of the vote, which is only a slight decline on the 45.8% the three parties' combined vote at the last General Election in 2016, but because the right-wing vote is more evenly divided between three right-wing parties, rather than being concentrated mainly with PP, they've fallen even further short of building a right-wing coalition.


Elements of the British press really wanted Vox to do well because "fascism is rising again in Spain" is a story they can really hype. The far-right did indeed bag a foothold in the Spanish parliament, but 10% is significantly below people's worst fears, but the UK media seemed unable to adjust their footing, drop the far-right overhype they wanted to present, and cover other significant and historic aspects of the election.

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Anonymous said...

Populism is inevitable.

Anonymous said...

You guys must be so thankful for disproportionate representation. Labour would be screwed if it was proportional, wouldn't you?

Cosmic Developer said...


Anonymous said...


Lol, UKIP with 27% of the vote share...

Anonymous said...

Man, thank God the British Empire abolished slavery.

Unknown said...

Anonymous. You sound like my half Spanish half Scottish mate. Juan Kerr.

Anonymous said...

Lol, and you type like you need to reference Google for jokes.

Anonymous said...


Anyone else see that incredibly violent gentleman assault two women and them assault Tommy Robinson?

Thank God everyone here realises theres a mainstream media bias though. Like with Corbyn...

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Whoa there! Just a minute on this hot topic... you dont think slavery should have been abolished??

Mr. Magoo said...

When will people stop switching between the 2 main parties every few years and join a REAL socialist party?!

Anonymous said...

You're a troll surely?

Mr. Magoo said...

If you're the same anonymous commenter from above - then people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Anonymous said...

Whoa!? You wouldn't think I'm the sort of person to point out media bias based on video evidence...? you sir, have gone to far. If it's a duel you want, you shall find my steel unbending! To arms!

Daniel Gonzalez said...

Hi An Spaniard here. I wanted to contribute to the debate.

The take away of this elections is not of the "surge" of the far right in Spain, but the "emancipation" of the far right from PP, the main conservative party.

In Spain we always knew in the left that a section of the Spanish right was some nostalgic and sympathetic to the old franquoist regime, branding it as a time of "development, security and order, where Spain was united" and dismissing of human rights abuses or genocidal behaviour of the fascist regime because "injustice is preferable to chaos" or "an iron fist was needed to avoid the worst".

We've always called them the "franquismo sociológico" (social fascism/franquism). It's a section to the population totally sympathetic to fascism, and their political party was the conservative party.
The conservative party welcomed their support,but ways had to play a chess game with them, keeping them tamed but feeding them with red meat every now and then.

PP managed to keep together this right wing alliance of white collar workers (neoliberal economically speaking but socially liberal) and the "franquismo sociológico" (socially ultraconservative but not that engaged in neoliberal values).

The PP crisis and the collapse of the party has meant that the "centrists" of Ciudadanos and the far right have parted ways, all at the expense of PP.

The main difference now is that before the far right was controlled/tamed by the right, and now they have their own voice and these people are rabid.

Podemos behaviour is another story, but Pablo Iglesias is to blame for this. Especially because we had the one denouncing the political establishment and later he's so eager to be accepted by them. They lost their soul in the process and we'll need to find a new leader soon.


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