Far-right wins parliamentary seats for first time in democratic Spain
The ultra-conservative and anti-immigration Vox has stormed into the Andalucian assembly, marking the first time a far-right party has achieved parliamentary representation on any level in Spain's recent history as a democracy.
The party, which favours the end of autonomy in Catalonia and the expulsion of all immigrants who entered Spain illegally, won 12 out of 109 seats in Andalucia's parliament with 11pc of the vote in the regional election.
"Vox was the party that led the political debate," said the party's secretary general, Javier Ortega. "We put on the table the need to control our borders and end illegal immigration, end abusive levels of taxation and put an end to ideological laws on gender."
Despite running out the narrow winner in the region it has ruled continuously for 36 years, the PSOE Socialist party of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez suffered a hugely disappointing result in Andalucia. The party's all-time low of 28pc and 33 seats mean it will not be able to govern with a majority, even with the support of the left-wing coalition Adelante Andalucia.
Spain's main conservative opposition force, the Popular Party (PP), also lost ground, sliding to just under 21pc, while the liberal Ciudadanos was the only winner among the established parties, doubling its share to 18pc.
Ahead of European and possibly a general election in 2019, Spain's political scene appears more fractured than ever after the dramatic emergence of Vox on the extreme right.
Despite having seen its number of seats shorn from 33 to 26, the PP's candidate for the presidency of the region, Juan Manuel Moreno, said it was a "historic day" on which "Andalucia had chosen change", saying he wants to lead a right-of-centre coalition including Vox and Ciudadanos.
"Ahead of this election we proposed change, now we guarantee change," Mr Moreno told PP members in Seville.
Ciudadanos' leader in Andalucia Juan Marín echoed the PP's message. "There is a majority in the parliament for change; change has arrived in Andalucia," Mr Marín said.
Andalucian President Susana Díaz blamed a low turnout of 59pc for her Socialist party's small margin of victory, and said: "I call on all the other political parties who consider themselves defenders of our democratic constitution to brake the extreme right." (© Daily Telegraph, London)