Vox, an ultra-conservative Spanish political party gradually growing in prominence, has agreed to join Andalusia’s new coalition government.

The far-right nationalist group dropped its controversial demands that the southern province expel 52,000 “illegal immigrants” from North Africa and repeal legislation on domestic violence and gender equality in order to form a majority in partnership with the right-wing People’s Party (PP) and more centrist Citizens Party.

Vox found itself in a position to play kingmaker after taking 12 seats and 11 per cent of the vote in local elections on 2 December, the first time it has entered regional parliament. The Andalusian Socialist Party meanwhile slumped to its worst-ever result following a year-long corruption scandal embroiling two of its former leaders.

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The incoming rightist coalition marks the end of 36 years of socialist rule in Andalusia and the deal has caused consternation among many, who fear Vox’s inclusion risks legitimising xenophobia and setting back progress on women’s rights.

A spokesman for the socialist government of prime minister Pedro Sanchez has expressed regret for “the radicalisation of the PP and Citizens following their deal with the far-right”.

Spanish MEP Ana Miranda from the Galician Nationalist Bloc meanwhile told Euronews the group pose “a danger to women and LGBT+ persons”.

Who are Vox?

Vox (its name Latin for “voice”) was formed in December 2013 as a splinter group from the PP, with members defecting to the new party after growing frustrated at the PP’s fiscal policy and failure to take a harder line on the separatist group ETA.

The party is led by Santiago Abascal, a 42-year-old former Basque Parliament member known to shout “Spain first!” at rallies, taking inspiration from American, British and French right-wing populist movements.

“Like Donald Trump in the United States, we want to make Spain great again,” general-secretary Javier Ortega has said

“Though Trump’s politics may not necessarily be right for Spain, [we admire] his defence of American liberty, his defence of the nation against international deals that have seriously damaged the country and the effective border control he is creating in the face of illegal immigration.” 

The party has been endorsed by Steve Bannon, the US president’s ex-chief strategist and former Breitbart editor, after he met Rafael Bardaji of Vox in Washington, the latter once an adviser to PM Jose Maria Aznar, who supported George W Bush’s Iraq War, launched in 2003.

What are the party’s polices?

Mr Abascal has called out “supremacist feminism and gender totalitarianism” while his party is opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Like other hard-line populist movements across Europe, Vox is critical of Islam, multiculturalism and mass immigration.

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The party favours centralised government, believing the 17 “autonomous communities” the country has been divided into since 1975 and the death of General Franco should be abolished, as well as greater protection for traditional Spanish institutions like bullfighting, hunting and Holy Week celebrations. 

It also wants to change Andalusia’s regional day from 28 February to 2 January to commemorate the Christian reconquest of Spain after the fall of Granada in 1492, a victory that ended centuries of Moorish rule.

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