Spain to vote in national election that could move the country right

Spain headed to the polls Sunday in a national election that could result in seismic changes for both Spanish citizens and the greater European Union. 

The conservative Popular Party (PP), led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, appears likely to oust Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) from power. Up-to-date polling shows the PP leading over PSOE 34% to 28%.

However, polling also shows that the PP will likely fall short of an outright majority in Parliament. As a result, Feijóo will likely have to turn to the far-right Vox Party to help form a government by filling out the remaining parliamentary seats. 

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The rise of the Vox Party has worried the PSOE, which has been in power longer than any other group in modern Spain. Vox is described by the Financial Times as a party that “wants to repeal a law cementing LGBT+ rights; it rejects worries about rising temperatures as ‘climate fanaticism’; and has used terms such as ‘Muslim invasion’ in its anti-immigration campaigns.” A swing to the right in Spain could also help cement additional far-right support in the EU.

If the PP and Vox team up following a potential victory, it would be the first time that a far-right group would return to government in Spain since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco was toppled in 1975. It would also mean Spain would join other European nations that have recently shifted to the right, including Italy, Sweden, and Finland. 

However, the public may not be so quick to embrace Vox, as people “are generally happy with the economic policies and orientation of the country,” José Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Madrid office, told Time. “It’s a paradox because the far right may be in government, but they are actually going down in polls.”

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