In our latest episode of Insiders, we visited Andalucía in southern Spain. In the region, the electoral breakthrough of the far-right Vox party has sent a shockwave through Spanish politics. Critics are calling the party stance anti-immigration and anti-feminist. Insiders’ Sophie Claudet and Valerie Gauriat sat down to break down what drove Spanish voters to such extremes.
Sophie Claudet: We're back with Valerie who produced this very interesting report. Valerie, you could not talk to Vox local leaders. You had arranged everything before you travelled to Andalucía. What happened they refused to talk to you?
Valerie Gauriat: Indeed we had confirmed everything, we had a number of interviews and appointments and sequences. We were going to follow them around. And then at the last minute, they said well "no, it's a no-go". We had orders from Madrid headquarters. You know they're ordering a blackout on all media. And the reasons when we asked them well they had no reasons. They said well "we don't know". But what is quite clear it's a very crucial period for Vox ahead of the elections. They're very very cautious about media coverage. They've had mishaps after the regional elections in December. There has been very offensive comments by supporters on the field, very racist comments. And also there were tweets by one of the Andalucían leaders saying that immigrants were a threat to European identity or that he was proud to be branded a sexist. So they want to get rid of that image. But they're having a hard time with that. They've been supported by, well praised, by most populist far-right parties in Europe and also a former leader of the Ku Klux Klux Klan.
Sophie Claudet: Indeed. But Vox is campaigning on anti-immigration theories. It is campaigning saying that you know parity between men and women is unacceptable that subsidized abortion should be banned. I mean it is what it is. Why are they now changing tack? I mean what's going?
Valerie Gauriat: Well they claim that they are not racist. They are not sexist.
Sophie Claudet: But they say those things and it's on their platform.
Valerie Gauriat: They have said it but then its a new party and it's not very well structured yet and they still have to sort out you know who will be their candidates who will be their regional leaders. There are divisions within the party, within the party membership and not all of their programme is you know agreed to by all members and by all supporters and they're kind of taking the temperature of their potential electorate as well. And even amongst their supporters, people don't agree about everything including the plan to reform the law on gender violence which is one of the most protective for women in Europe and that doesn't go along well with a lot of women.
Sophie Claudet: No, there were big demonstrations in the streets of Spain. Now let's turn to the supporters of Vox. You managed to talk to a few people and more often than not as you know on the streets. Not setup interviews. The only setup interview if I remember well was this couple that would not appear on camera. So are people ashamed to say they're voting for Vox? Is it not cool in the post-Franco era to embrace anti-migration, anti women's rights theories? What is it?
Valerie Gauriat: Yes. Well, the people were very worried about being stigmatized in La Linea as the whole of Andalucía is traditionally a leftwing stronghold. And it's not well seen, at all, to be connected with a party like Vox and they've told us this. The Vox supporters but also their non-supporters. And that couple that you mentioned is for Vox. The husband is a supporter of Vox for but the wife isn't.
Sophie Claudet: She's not happy about it
Valerie Gauriat: She removed him from her Facebook friends list.
Sophie Claudet: To punish him, though they are still a couple
Valerie Gauriat: To punish him or to show, you know, that she disagreed with him on the women's issues and also on the immigration issues. So, yes, it is still a taboo in many parts of Andalucía and in La Linea. All the more that they are working a lot with Gibraltar and Vox wants to close the door with Gibraltar. So people are worried that if there's any connection between made between them and Vox, they could actually lose their jobs.
Sophie Claudet: Well thank you, Valerie. That's all the time we have for today. We'll be back next month for another Insider's Unreported Europe. Thanks for watching!