As mainstream Western Europe has been moving to the left for decades and traditional right-wing parties, like the Christian Democrats (CDU) in Germany and the Partido Popular (PP) in Spain, have followed the wrong path, other political formations have slowly gained momentum.
One of them is VOX, a party founded on December 17th, 2013 in Madrid by disappointed former PP representatives, which presented itself to the media during a press conference on January 16th, 2014.
Since September 20th of that year, the charismatic essayist Santiago Abascal Conde, born on April 14th, 1976 in the northern port city of Bilbao, has been its president.
Abascal was raised in Amurrio, a village where his grandfather served as mayor during Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s rule and his father also got involved in politics as a local PP councilor.
Targeted by the Basque terrorist organization ETA, Santiago Abascal Escuza (1949-2017) escaped three attempts on his life and his textile business was attacked with Molotov cocktails.
His son joined the PP as soon as he turned 18 and was forced to go everywhere with two bodyguards by his side. Without doubt, those years of threats have decisively influenced Abascal’s ideas.
A Basque PP parliamentarian between 2004 and 2009, in 2006 Abascal established the Foundation for the Defense of the Spanish Nation (Fundación para la Defensa de la Nación Española, DENAES).
He openly acknowledges owning a Smith & Wesson firearm, which is rare in a country where the law severely restricts gun ownership: “At first to protect my father from ETA; now my offspring.”
In 2018 Abascal married Instagram influencer Lidia Bedman (born 1985), with whom he has a son and a daughter, and also takes care of two older children from a previous marriage with Ana Belén Sánchez.
VOX opposes the concept of self-governed regions (autonomías), illegal immigration, euthanasia, genderism and feminism, homosexual marriage, bias against men, corruption and nepotism, an extremely one-sided view of history including the demonization of former head of state Francisco Franco, the cozying up to ETA’s supporters in parliament as well as radical Catalan Separatists and Islamization.
At the same time, VOX advocates the highly unlikely return to Spain of the Rock of Gibraltar, occupied by Great Britain since 1713, and a bone of contention between the two historical adversaries.
Due to his personal experiences, Abascal is particularly sensitive about Basque authorities being granted sole decision making power over the prisons there and the transfer of ETA prisoners from other parts of Spain, recently accelerated by the ruling Socialists and Communists.
At the beginning, the election results weren’t very encouraging, but the illegal referendum on independence in Catalonia hold on October 1st, 2017 was the key to success, as this serious constitutional crisis wasn’t properly addressed by other forces.
Against all odds, on December 2nd, 2018 VOX won almost 11% of the votes in Andalusia and 12 of the 109 seats in the regional parliament, in a region which had been a leftist stronghold and haunted by rampant corruption since the 1980s.
The general elections on April 28th, 2019 brought further consolidation and 24 parliamentarians at national level. When they had to be hold again on November 10th, this number more than doubled to 52 with around 15% of the vote.
At the same polls, the first two VOX senators and three members of the European Parliament were elected, which after Brexit actually became four.
Since June 11th, 2019 VOX supports the government of Murcia and since August 14th of last year the one headed by the PP in the Community of Madrid.
Finally, at the elections in Abascal’s native Basque Country on July 12th, 2020, VOX candidate María Amaia Martínez Grisaleña (born 1968) also succeeded.
VOX’s affiliation shot up after the failed motion of no-confidence on October 22nd, 2020, which presented Abascal as an alternative to Socialist Pedro Sánchez as Prime Minister.
The ruthless attack of PP leader Pablo Casado against VOX in general and Abascal in particular, an unexpected act of treason considering their recent cooperation, obviously benefited the PP’s competitors.
While the daily average of new members used to be 33, the day after the motion VOX registered 622 and membership currently stands at around 60.000.
Interestingly enough, on the Canary Islands, in Castille and León, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja and Navarre so far VOX hasn’t achieved representation. As the general situation in Spain is worsening fast, this might change soon.