The prospect of a national coalition government between Spain’s conservative People’s party (PP) and its far-right Vox party has increased after the PP executed a dramatic ideological U-turn to cut another regional deal with Vox.
Although the opposition PP has attempted to portray itself as a moderate, centrist party in the hope of unseating the Socialist-led government of Pedro Sánchez, it has refused to rule out a coalition with Vox should it fall short of an absolute majority in a 23 July snap election.
The conservatives – whose series of emphatic victories in last month’s regional and municipal polls led Sánchez to call an early general election – have already entered a coalition with Vox to rule the Valencia region.
On Friday, the PP and Vox announced a new deal to jointly run the south-western region of Extremadura – just days after the PP’s leader there said she would never govern with the far-right party because of its denial of gender-based violence, its anti-immigrant stance, and its opposition to LGBTQ+ rights.
Earlier this week, Madrid’s electoral commission ordered Vox to remove a large banner from the capital that depicted a hand tossing symbols representing feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, Catalan independence, environmental programmes and communism into a bin.
“I can’t allow those who deny gender-based violence … those who are dehumanising immigrants and those who unfurl a banner chucking the LGBTI flag into the bin into government,” María Guardiola, the PP’s leader in Extremadura, said last week. She also insisted she would be prepared to stand in a repeat of the regional elections rather than countenance any deals with Vox.
But over the following days – under apparent pressure from the party leadership – she began to waver. On Friday morning, the PP and Vox announced a coalition government agreement in Extremadura under which Guardiola would be regional president and Vox would run the ministry of rural affairs.
The PP hailed the agreement as a “triumph of dialogue” and described Guardiola as a woman “of principles and convictions”. Vox said it was pleased to see “sense prevailing”.
But Pilar Alegría, who serves as education minister and spokesperson for Sánchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers party, criticised the PP for its hypocrisy.
“The PP is a Marxist party – a Groucho Marxist party,” she said in a tweet quoting the American comedian’s famous line: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them … well I have others.”
Sánchez recently warned that the PP, which is leading the polls, was becoming too beholden to Vox and its ideologies.
“There’s something that’s far more dangerous than Vox, and that’s having a PP that assumes the policies and postures of Vox,” he told El País. “And that’s what we’re seeing: a denialism when it comes to social, political and scientific consensus.”