With less than a month to go before the general elections in Spain, the candidate of centre-right Partido Popular (PP) for president of the autonomous region of Extremadura, María Guardiola, ruled out a future government with what she called a “sexist” far-right VOX party.
After the crushing defeat of the socialist party (PSOE/S&D) in the regional and municipal elections on 28 May, a large part of Spanish city councils and autonomous communities look blue, the official colour of the PP, although to govern, they need the support of Vox or other local formations.
After the most controversial agreement between the PP and VOX in the Valencian Community (East), the situation is tough for the far-right party in Extremadura (southeast), the fourth poorest region in Spain, with an annual GDP per capita of € 19,072 compared to € 34,821 in Madrid, according to official statistics.
María Guardiola (44), the PP candidate in that region, refuses to share the government with a party that, among other things, denies male violence, she said.
An example of coherence
“In Extremadura, I wouldn’t have put VOX in the government. You can’t swallow (accept) everything”, she told El País in an interview published Wednesday.
“If we have to go to new elections, we’ll go”, Guardiola said recently. In just a few days, she became the first tangible example of resistance from a PP politician to shake hands with VOX if the far-right party crosses some red lines, particularly on equality policies or women’s rights.
It is a sort of “rebellion”, not so much by the PP itself but by its candidate in Extremadura, who has placed herself light years away from the agreements concluded by her party in Valencia.
But VOX has made it crystal clear: the far-right party wants to be in the region’s government just as it has done in the Valencian Community, where Santiago Abascal’s party is at the head of several important regional ministries.
On Wednesday, the acting president of the Junta de Extremadura (regional executive), Guillermo Fernández Vara (PSOE), announced that he would run for the investiture despite not having the support to be elected president, EFE reported.
The ‘laboratory’ of Extremadura
Vara asked the rest of the parties to support the most voted list (the PSOE) and accused the PP and Vox of using Extremadura “as a laboratory”. “Stop playing with Extremadura”, he stated.
In the 28 May elections, the PP tied with the PSOE for 28 seats, and although at first, everything seemed to point to an agreement between the PP and VOX that would leave Fernández Vara out of the presidency of the Junta, the disagreement between the two right-wing parties now brings the possibility of a new election closer.
Guardiola commented on Wednesday that “the reasonable thing to do” is for VOX to back down on its demands to enter the regional government and make it easier for the PP to govern.
On several occasions, the PP candidate has explained that there is no place in her government for a party that denies male violence, dehumanises immigrants, and threatens the rights of LGTBI people. Consequently, and in coherence, she said the door remains closed to VOX in that region.
“What we have done in Extremadura is what we have been saying from the beginning, that we were not going to govern with Vox and that we wanted to govern alone,” Guardiola said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday by the private radio station Onda Cero.
Difficult decision for Núñez Feijóo
The leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, is confronted with a Solomonic decision, whom to support: the “Valencian way” or Guardiola´s “cordon sanitaire” on VOX.
On Wednesday, he pointed out that he endorses the two “models”: governing in coalition in the Valencian Community and vetoing the entry of VOXinto, the government in Extremadura.
Speaking to the press, he said that what VOX was asking for Extremadura was “disproportionate” because with 8% of the vote and five MPs, they were trying to preside over parliament, have control of the majority of parliament’s Bureau and simultaneously hold ministerial posts in a PP government.
“The PP is a party that has principles and will not mimic the policies of (prime minister) Pedro Sánchez. When we say that something is disproportionate and goes against the votes obtained at the polls, we comply with it”, he stressed, underlining that this is the vision of Guardiola in Extremadura.
A different situation to that of the Valencian Community, where Santiago Abascal’s party obtained 12% of the vote, and the “need for the number of deputies” to complete the absolute majority is “different” to that of Extremadura. “The party has acted correctly both in Valencia and in Extremadura”, he stressed.
(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)
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