Political Turmoil And An Unravelling Budget: Why Spain Is Europe’s Next Powderkeg; And, A Message To The U.S.
The title above is from Anna Issac’s article in today’s (February 17, 2019) DailyTelegraph. I refer you to the Daily Telegraph and Ms. Issac’s article for the full details. But, the title sums it up pretty well. If Spain was a volcano, there would be smoke rising; and, increasing signs of an impending eruption. For the first time since the end of the Francisco Franco dictatorship in 1975, a far-right party, Vox, is gaining prominence and stature in the more impoverished southern regions of Spain. emerged. Founded in 2013 by Santiago Abascal, Vox became the first far-right party to win seats in parliament since 1977. As Raphael Minder wrote in today’s New York Times, “With Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s decision on Friday to call for new elections, Vox, which got its election breakthrough in El Ejido, [Spain’s southern coast], will now have a chance to test its appeal on a national stage. Its entry will break a taboo for Spain, which until now, has resisted the pull of the far-right nationalism alive in much of Europe.”
“In regional elections last December/2018 in Andalusia, where Almeria is located, Vox won 11 percent of the vote,” Mr. Minder notes. “In El Ejido, a local municipality of about 90,000, it came out on top with 30 percent. What animates Vox, supporters say, is an urge to reclaim and defend Spanish nationalism, in the face of perceived threats to the country’s, integrity” he noted.
“For Vox, that includes migration, though the Andalusia region is heavily dependent on seasonal labor, and the independence drive in Catalonia, seen as an attempt by the affluent northeastern region to turn its back on poorer Spaniards,” Mr. Minter wrote. A political advertisement in November 2018, one month before the national election, Vox ran an advertisement that was shown on YouTube, “with the tag line, “La Reconquista comenzara’ en tierras andaluzas,” (the Reconquista shall start in Andalusian lands),” Ms. Issac wrote. “The reference,” she wrote, “to the Reconquista, the series of military efforts to recapture lands from the Moorish settlers, that culminated in the fall of Granada in the 15th century, draws on the anti-migrant, anti-Islamic tone endemic to the Vox’s campaigning tactics.”
“Illegal migration is a problem for the whole of Spain,” said Juan Francisco Rojas, the President of Vox in Almeria, where about 14,000 migrants from Africa arrived last year,” Mr. Minter wrote, “as the populist government in Italy tightened its borders.” As for Catalan secessionism, he said, “Anything that affects one part our territory, also affects the rest of Spain, which is why Vox wants to guarantee nobody can threaten our unity.”
“Just how far Vox’s message will carry,” is anyone’s guess; but, it is clear that Vox’s message has an undercurrent of appeal that has caught many by surprise. Much as POTUS Trump capitalized on sentiment in the U.S. that POTUS Obama promoted and elitist globalism at the expense of America, this same sentiment is sweeping Europe. This is a European Spring, as opposed to an Arab Spring, as voters in the U.K. approved of Brexit, — feeling that the country was losing its identity to a disconnected, distant, bureaucratic entity in Brussels. POTUS Obama appealed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to accept more refugees from Syria and the war-torn Middle East, only to misjudge the unease of the German populace, that the country was losing its culture and identity. Chronic unemployment among Europe’s youth, a migrant crisis that rivals WWII, and, a rejection of the European Union’s intrusion into individual country’s and their populace — is feeding this nationalist movement.
As Ms. Issac noted, “Vox may lack the outright anti-EU language of parties such as Italy’s Lega Nord, the far-right party forming one-half of the populist government; but, it has elements that suggest resistance to Brussels. Angel Talavera, of Oxford Economics, told the Daily Telegraph, “A lot of people in Spain are really angry and I think Vox has channeled this. But really, I think it is just catching up with the rest of the world., Our [Spanish] history meant we avoided the far-right for a time, but the issues [that Vox focuses on] are the same [as elsewhere]: national identity, migration — in that sense, it’s a standard populist party.”
How all this ends is anyone’s guess. But, methinks that the Democrats in the U.S. are on the wrong side of history in opposing securing our borders, establishing sanctuary cities, demagouging ICE, and opposing the stopping illegal immigration. In the interest of honesty, I am in favor of a “wall;” but, I want a BIG GATE. America needs immigrants; but, not at the expense of what it means to be American. Being an American, just like being a Spaniard, or German, etc., should have meaning. Embracing unfettered immigration is not going to douse the nationalist/populist wave — it will only feed it….abroad, and here at home. RCP, fortunascorner.com