Vox: Who are Spain's far-right party and what do they stand for?

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By Sofia Sanchez Manzanaro  & Marta Rodríguez
Santiago Abascal, leader and presidential candidate of Spain's far-right party VOX.
Santiago Abascal, leader and presidential candidate of Spain's far-right party VOX.   -  Copyright  REUTERS/Albert Gea

Santiago Abascal Conde, leader of the far-right Vox party, says the key to his success is that he "doesn't deceive" and has "a clear message".

Vox has existed since 2013 but it did not manage to enter the Spanish Parliament until last April's elections when they garnered the fifth largest number of seats. In Sunday's election, Vox is predicted to double its seats to become the third-largest party in the Spanish Parliament.

Its electoral programme includes proposals that would violate the Spanish constitution such as eliminating the Autonomous Communities.

Vox promises the suspension of the Catalan autonomy, the outlawing of nationalist parties and "the maximum legal protection for the symbols of the nation, especially the flag, the anthem and the crown" - three words that are written in capital letters.

Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain's emerging far-right party VOX, speaks during a rally in Barcelona, Spain, March 30, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

The far-right party also suggests some controversial measures to curb irregular immigration. Abascal defends the urgent repatriation of all those that are not legally residing in Spain, whom he considers to create "very serious economic and coexistence problems", and would want Spain to leave the Schengen area.

Regarding Catalonia, Abascal claims that there is "a permanent coup d'état". To resolve the conflict, he would "promote the suspension of autonomy to take control of public Catalan television, police and education".

The last campaign of Vox can be compared to other European far-right movements, like the French National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen. During the past weeks, Vox has vetoed certain journalists and media from their rallies, something that Marine Le Pen has been doing for years in France.

Who is Santiago Abascal?

Santiago Abascal, the leader of Vox, is a 43-year-old native of Bilbao in the Basque Country, with a degree in sociology. He calls himself a "strong patriot" and has confessed his love for horses and motorcycles.

He learned about politics, his other passion, from a very young age. He is the grandson of a pro-Franco mayor and the son of a leader of the Basque People's Party.

Because of their political affiliations, his family was harassed by the Basque separatist violent group ETA. Since that time, he always carries with him a pistol, first to defend his father and now to defend his four children, two from each of his two marriages.