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VOX Underperforms in Andalusia’s Regional Elections by Bridget Ryder

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VOX Underperforms in Andalusia’s Regional Elections

Spain’s right-wing party VOX underperformed in regional elections in Andalusia on Sunday, June 19th, while the center-right Partido Popular (PP) won a historic victory.

The PP garnered 58 seats in the regional parliament, almost doubling its seats from the last legislature and winning its first-ever absolute majority in the region. VOX won 14 seats, increasing its presence in the local government by two deputies, but seeing its influence diminished compared to the last regional parliament, and achieving results far from the hoped-for 20 seats.

The left-wing Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) landed 30 seats, a record low for the party that has dominated in the region for the last forty years. The divided far-left, split between two communist parties, dropped to a mere 7 deputies. The neo-liberal party Ciudadanos fell from its 21-seat win in 2018 to zero. It is out of the regional parliament completely.  

Andalusia is Spain’s largest and most populous region, comprising most of the southern part of the country from the Mediterranean coast inland. It has long been the stronghold of the Left represented by the PSOE, which had governed with an absolute majority almost exclusively in the first forty years of Spanish democracy. That changed in 2018. Following a corruption scandal in the regional PSOE, in that year’s elections, the Right surpassed the Left in deputies. Though the PSOE still won the most seats in parliament with 33, the Right—divided between Ciudadanos, VOX, and the PP with 21, 28, and 12 seats respectively—had the majority. The three parties formed a coalition government with the PP’s Juanma Moreno as president. 

Going into the 2022 elections, it was clear the Left would not resurrect. Mismanagement of everything from the pandemic to key foreign relations by the PSOE-led national government had poisoned the party’s support everywhere, as other recent regional elections showed. The election would hinge on how the votes for the Right broke down.

VOX had hoped to build on recent successes in recent regional elections. It became a deciding force in the regional Madrid parliament in 2021, and also entered the regional government of Castille-Leon in 2022. The party’s high hopes for an impressive showing in the Andalusia elections were made clear by its choice of candidate. Party president Santiago Abascal appointed Macarena Olona, the party’s sharp, sassy spokesperson in the national parliament in Madrid, to lead the party’s campaign in the region.

VOX knew it would not surpass the PP in votes, but during her campaign, Olona made her primary demand clear: to get into the regional government. She warned that even if the PP needed just one vote from VOX to secure the regional presidency, it would have to concede a place in the government to her party to get it. 

PP’s Juan Manuel Moreno, by contrast, pleaded for just enough votes to be able to govern alone, without restraint, and without “a mortgage” to other political forces. Also in contrast to firebrand Olona, he opted for a deliberately moderate, calmly toned campaign focused on widely popular policies. 

Ciudadanos had hoped to remain a political force in the region, but the party’s complete loss in Andalusia reflects the national trend. The neo-liberal party has diminished to near-extinction both nationally and regionally since refusing in 2019 to form a national government with the PSOE and triggering a second round of elections. 

The PP’s win in Andalusia shows Spaniards have tired of the fragmented political landscape that emerged, particularly on the Right, with the rise of third parties like Ciudadanos and VOX. From the national government to regional parliaments, single-party majorities have become less common, and the result has been less-stable governments and more anticipated elections. 

Andalusia has changed the trend.

The PSOE’s loss also portends the future of national politics for the Left. The ruling PSOE is expected to hold out the entire national legislature before general elections will come due at the end of 2023, but it is not expected to win the next round of votes. The question is, how far will it fall. 

If Spanish politics are shifting back to the center, VOX can at least take comfort in its well-rehearsed position of outspoken opposition.

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.