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The rise of the far right in Spain is putting extra pressure on the upcoming election


This Sunday, voters in Spain go to the polls in what could be one of the most pivotal elections in a while. Spain is currently run by a center-left government, but the far right is on the rise, and the possibility that they may gain influence in the next government has many worried. Reporter Miguel Macias has this preview.

MIGUEL MACIAS, BYLINE: Spain - nearly 5,000 miles of coastline, beautiful beaches, plenty of sunshine - you have to be very busy not to enjoy the coast during the notoriously hot Spanish summer.

Can you describe where we are right now?

JOSE MEJIAS: That is Matalascanas. That is the closest beach to Sevilla.

MACIAS: That's Jose Mejias, strolling the boardwalk in Matalascanas, in the south of Spain. For the first time in the history of Spain's modern democracy, there is a general election during the summer - and not just any other summer - one that has seen heat wave after heat wave. On weekends, it seems that everyone is at the beach.

(Speaking Spanish).

CARMEN VEGA: (Through interpreter) This Sunday, I'm going back to Sevilla to vote.

MACIAS: Carmen Vega is vacationing in Matalascanas, and so is Oliver Portillo.

OLIVER PORTILLO: (Through interpreter) I have not voted yet, and I am not going to vote.

MACIAS: There is one thing that has political pundits worried here - voter turnout. It took everyone by surprise when Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced early elections for this Sunday.

MARIA RAMIREZ: This is Maria Ramirez. I'm the deputy managing editor of El Diario.

MACIAS: Ramirez says Pedro Sanchez was trying to slow down the decline in support of his own center-left government coalition. But, as it turns out, the candidate who's looking strongest in the polls is...

RAMIREZ: Yeah, Alberto Nunez Feijoo is the leader of the conservative party, PP, but he's also perceived as moderate.

MACIAS: A party that is definitely not perceived as moderate is Vox, with its national leader.

RAMIREZ: We have Santiago Abascal, who is the leader of the far-right party. He advocates for more migration control, tougher punishments for crime and, particularly, less policies against gender discrimination, gender violence and against trans rights.

JOSE BAUTISTA: Spain is now one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of social laws.

MACIAS: Jose Bautista is an investigative journalist who studies the impact that the far right has had in recent Spanish politics.

BAUTISTA: It seems those advances are now being challenged by the sexists of Vox. It's a very complicated and very important moment for Spain and for its future.

MACIAS: To be clear, Vox has no real chance of winning the election. Ramirez again.

RAMIREZ: I mean, according to most polls, the conservative party - this PP of Feijoo - is going to win the election. But it's not clear if the conservatives will have the majority in Parliament to form a government.

MACIAS: So the conservative party might need to form a coalition with Vox in order to govern. On the left side, the socialist party could form a government with one other player - Sumar, a coalition of far-left parties that is led by a rising star of Spanish politics.

RAMIREZ: Yolanda Diaz - she's the equivalent to the secretary of the Labor Department. And also, she's the first woman to be a leader of a main national party in Spain.

MACIAS: But there is also a real chance that there is no solid outcome.

RAMIREZ: In that scenario, we even could have a new election.

MACIAS: Regardless of whether Vox supports the conservatives to form a government, many are now worried about the party's arrival once and for all as a powerful influence in Spanish politics.

Back in Matalascanas, the popular beach town in southern Spain, what do voters here actually worry about when it comes to the election? Here's Carmen Vega again.

VEGA: (Through interpreter) I'm worried about the economy, unemployment, public safety and education.

PORTILLO: (Speaking Spanish).

MACIAS: "The economy and social services," says Oliver Portillo - bread-and-butter issues. On Sunday, many of these Spaniards will jump in their car and drive back to their towns to cast a ballot. You might even be able to get a table at a beach restaurant - what we call a chiringuito.

For NPR News, I'm Miguel Macias in Matalascanas, Spain.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Miguel Macias
Miguel Macias is a Senior Producer at All Things Considered, where he is proud to work with a top-notch team to shape the content of the daily show.

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