By Estefanía Aguirre / Aug. 6, 2019 – Madrid
As Spain continues without a government, its citizens are increasingly swapping support from its two traditional political parties –the conservative PP-Partido Popular (People’s Party) and the liberal PSOE-Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party)– to far right VOX and far left Podemos, resulting in escalating violence.
VOX leader Santiago Abascal received death threats on graffiti in Barcelona in January that read “You deserve a shot in the neck” and “VOX we are going to kill”.
Also in January, members of VOX were assaulted in Catalonia during a public act forcing local police to intervene.
Just three days shy of Spain’s general elections on April 28, the VOX headquarters in Madrid were severely vandalized. The party’s vice president Víctor González de Coello published a video on his twitter account showing the damage done to the office. VOX responded to the attack on Twitter saying “The national headquarters of VOX has been attacked this morning with hammers. Podemos, PSOE and their propaganda apparatus point at us so that others throw the stones. Spain is alive and this April 28 it will face the polls without fear of anything or anyone.”
Then, just hours before the elections, cybercriminals who identified themselves with the Anonymous collective “Anon” led a massive attack knocking down the website of VOX for an hour and a half using computers located in several countries.
On Aug. 4, someone hacked into the Twitter official news account of VOX and posted death threats directed at Abascal and images of the Spanish flag burning.
Before the account was suspended, the hacker had changed the account’s name to “F*** Spain” and had tweeted: “I’m going to decapitate your head @SantiagoAbascal”, “I’m going to burn the son of a b**** @SantiagoAbascal alive I’m going to hit him 300 times with a machete”.
And also, “Abascal, I’m going to hit you so many times with a machete that I’m going to leave your face in pieces and then I’ll make a soup with that meat son of the big b****” and “this is how I’m going to leave your face @Santi_ABASCAL, and if someone gets in the way I’ll do this twice (as bad) to that person”.
Support for PP has plunged since it was implicated in a corruption scandal and many members had to face trial in 2016.
PSOE’s secretary-general Pedro Sánchez forced president Mariano Rajoy of the then ruling party PP out of office by surprise with a no-confidence vote in Parliament with the support of Basque and Catalan separatist parties, proclaiming himself Spain’s new temporary president.
Despite the PSOE party having less than a quarter of seats in Congress at the time, Sánchez became the new president. Spain’s constitution states that the party presenting a no-confidence motion must be prepared to govern and replace the deposed president if a parliamentary majority backs it.
Some members of the PP abandoned the party and joined the nascent right wing party VOX (not to be confused with the American news and opinion website ) –meaning ‘voice’ in Latin– that had been created in December 2013.
The general elections held on April 28 this year resulted in VOX winning seats in Congress for the first time.
PSOE won 123 seats; Unidas Podemos (UP) –a new left-wing alliance between Podemos and United Left (IU)– won 42. Together, these two parties account for 165 seats, which is below the 176 needed for an absolute majority. This means Sánchez needs the support of other parties if he is to be sworn in as permanent president.
The right-wing bloc also fell short of an absolute majority. The PP won 66 seats, the centre-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens) took 57 and VOX obtained 24. Together, the three parties account for 147 seats.
Since the elections, Sánchez has failed twice to form a government but will continue to act as temporary president. He will make a third and final attempt to form a government when Congress reconvenes no later than Sept. 23. If he fails to win the necessary support, a general election will be held on Nov. 10, the fourth in four years.
Podemos was founded in January 2014 with presence also in Venezuela, Bolivia, Guatemala, Brazil and Chile.
The programme of Podemos – its website offers three versions – focuses on ecology, animal rights and feminism. In fact, the party’s colour is purple, just like the one chosen by ‘Women’s International Day’.
In March 2019, it formed a coalition with ‘Izquierda Unida’ (United Left) and the Spanish ecological party ‘Equo’. The coalition was named ‘Unidas Podemos’, which means ‘United we can’ written in the Spanish feminine form to show support for the feminist movement.
The programme of VOX includes a constitutional reform and a new state model, commitment to the defense of Spain and its internal security, a responsible immigration policy, the defense of life from conception to natural death, and the abolishment of gender ideology laws that Podemos backs and which have been introduced in Spain’s education system).
After the Catalan declaration of independence on Oct. 27, 2017, VOX was the only party to sue the Parliament of Catalonia and several separatist politicians on grounds of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement.
But some Spaniards are suspicious of VOX after it admitted to receiving €800.000 Euros to finance the 2014 European elections campaign from the National Council of Resistance of Iran/MEK, a group based in France that has close ties with Saudi Arabia and deemed by Iran a terrorist organization. VOX has affirmed that “the donations were legal and totally transparent”.