Spanish Far-Right Fiasco: A Signal for Center-Right

European leaders can breathe a sigh of relief. In the last ballot in Spain, the far-right Vox party lost more than a third of the seats it won in 2019. This means that Spain will not join the alarming list of European countries ruled by governments influenced by far-right parties. While the protracted political stalemate in Spain, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, risks affecting the functioning of the Union, at least far-right parties will not be able to block its ambitious plans in the fields of environment and energy.

More importantly, the dismal failure of Vox should bring some peace and dignity back to the European political scene. Hopefully center-right leaders will now be more wary of far-right rhetoric.

German opposition leader Friedrich Merz would do well to learn from Vox’s failure. His party, the CDU, is struggling to take advantage of voter dissatisfaction with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government. On the contrary, it is the neo-fascist party, the AfD, which is soaring in the polls.

Concerned, Merz has also recently begun to adopt the AfD’s rhetoric, accusing Ukrainian refugees of engaging in “social tourism” and calling young Germans of immigrant origin “little pashas”. Last week he shocked his own party by saying he was ready to work with the AfD, claims he has now denied.

Britain’s state under the umbrella of a radicalized Tory party is another wake-up call for centre-right supporters across Europe. The Tories, a once respectable political formation, borrowed generously from fringe parties such as Nigel Farage’s Independence Party in the hope of winning over their supporters. The result was Brexit, a calamitous act of national self-harm that will not and cannot be redeemed for a long time.

Furthermore, the Conservative party ended up doing hara-kiri politically, purging its most able leaders and elevating unscrupulous adventurers and blunderers such as Boris Johnson and Liz Truss to high office.

The Spanish elections have shown that many voters are not ready to entrust the future of their nation to political extremists, even if they sometimes trust them in local elections and in opinion polls. Right-wing agitators may even end up mobilizing hitherto apathetic voters against them. By caving in to the radicals, center-right leaders may end up finding that they will gain little but a general weakening of democratic standards and their own debasement.

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