OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – Spain’s progressive coalition government survived a vote of no-confidence by a landslide on Thursday, after even the conservative Popular Party voted against the far-right proposal to oust the current government.
The Spanish Parliament completely isolated the Vox party, which filed the motion but found no support.
Over two days of debate, Vox fiercely criticized the government and echoed far-right tropes that are increasingly familiar across the globe.
The party’s leader Santiago Abascal repeatedly referred to SARS-CoV-2 as the “Chinese virus,” compared the EU to the Soviet Union and “Hitler’s dream,” said the billionaire George Soros was conspiring against Spain, and likened climate change to “a superstitious religion.”
He also called for the government to immediately expel all migrants who arrived in Spain illegally and said the Catalan independence movement may end up creating the “Islamic Republic of Catalonia.”
Members of the Popular Party, who had not previously confirmed how they would vote, distanced themselves from Vox and directly voted against the motion instead of abstaining.
Popular Party leader Pablo Casado called the no-confidence motion “pure populism,” adding that the only things Vox brings to Spain are “division, failures and anger.”
As a result, 298 politicians voted against bringing down the government, while 52 – all from Vox – voted in favor.
This was the fifth-ever no-confidence vote in Spain’s democracy. Only the motion filed by current Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in 2018 against the government led by Mariano Rajoy over corruption allegations has succeeded in toppling a government.
This is the first vote in which no one abstained.
Yet despite the unified reaction against Vox, the two days of debate served to highlight the political tension that has been growing in the country as the result of the coronavirus crisis.
Spain has one of the world’s worst per capita death tolls from the virus and the IMF predicts it will suffer Europe’s largest economic downturn this year.
Casado called Sanchez’s government the “most negligent in the world,” and said he is the worst leader the country has had in the last 40 years.
Abascal, on the other hand, said the current administration is the worst Spain has had in 80 years – a time frame that includes the rule of former dictator Francisco Franco.
A major poll by Spain’s Center for Sociology Research (CIS) published last week, suggests Vox remains the third-most popular party in Spain, and would receive around 12.5% of the popular vote.
That is down from the November 2019 elections in which the party broke onto the scene in a big way for the first time, winning 15.1% of the vote.
According to the poll, the Socialist party, headed by Sanchez, has seen support grow by two percentage points since last year’s second round of national elections.