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Europe's far right gathers in Madrid to kick off unofficial elections campaign

A supporter holds a Spansh flag during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox's rally "Europa Viva 24" in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 19, 2024.
A supporter holds a Spansh flag during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox's rally "Europa Viva 24" in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 19, 2024. Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Euronews with AP
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Spain’s far-right Vox party held an event in the outskirts of Spain's capital Sunday, bringing together hard-wing figures from across Europe (and Argentina's Milei) in a bid to rally the party's base ahead of June’s European elections.

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Europe’s far-right political parties unofficially launched their campaign on Sunday for European Union elections in Spain, highlighted by a strongly-worded stance against illegal migration and the bloc’s climate policy while also declaring their support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

French National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen and Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tried to rally voters at an event organised by Spain’s far-right Vox party in Madrid.

Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy party had its roots among World War II fascist leader Benito Mussolini’s sympathisers, spoke in Spanish via video call, calling for young people to vote. “You are the only possible future for Europe,” Meloni said.

Santiago Abascal, leader of the far right VOX party gestures as he delivers a speech on stage during Vox's rally in Madrid, Spain. May 19, 2024.
Santiago Abascal, leader of the far right VOX party gestures as he delivers a speech on stage during Vox's rally in Madrid, Spain. May 19, 2024.AP

The defence of the EU’s borders was another main theme of the last of two days of the meeting organized by Vox in an arena on the outskirts of the Spanish capital.

“We are not against human rights, but we want strong borders in Europe... because it is ours,” said André Ventura, leader of hard-wing populist Chega, a party that won the third largest number of parliamentary seats in Portugal earlier this year. 

“We cannot continue to have this massive influx of Islamic and Muslim immigrants into Europe,” he added.

Meloni defended her country’s policy of reaching agreements with third countries to try to curb illegal immigration, while Le Pen advocated for reform of the Schengen area so that “Europe allows each country to choose who enters and who leaves its territory.”

Vox’s president, Santiago Abascal, called for unity of the far right ahead of the European elections.

“In the face of globalism we must respond with a global alliance of patriots in defence of common sense, economic prosperity, security and freedom because we share the threat, and that leads us to solidarity,” Abascal said.

The vote will indicate whether the continental political drift will match the rightward swing seen across much of the globe in places such as the Netherlands, Slovakia and Argentina.

Argentina’s libertarian President Javier Milei, who was welcomed like a star amidst chants of “Freedom", used the spotlight to bash Pedro Sánchez, Spain's socialist prime minister, and his wife — something unthinkable for most heads of state visiting a long-standing ally.

“They don’t know what type of society and country (socialism) can produce and what kind of people chained to power and what levels of abuse it can generate," Milei said in his speech before weighing in on the corruption allegations against Sánchez's wife, Begoña Gómez.

"Even if he has a corrupt wife, he gets dirty and takes five days to think about it,” he said, referring to the time Sánchez took considering whether to step down after the accusations came to light.

In response, the Spanish government demanded an apology from Milei, saying it was recalling its ambassador from Buenos Aires over the remarks, which Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares condemned as bringing “relations between Spain and Argentina to the most grave point in our recent history.”

Analysts say the vote across the bloc’s 27 nations could see a strong rise of the far right in June.

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