Spain this week became the latest European country to register a strong electoral showing for the far-right, after Vox more than doubled its seats to become the third most powerful party.
While the governing Socialists won, news was dominated by the surge in ballot-box support for right-wing parties, including for the second-placed Popular Party (PP) and Vox, whose supporters routinely perform a fascist salute.
Weary Spaniards, sent back to the polls for the fourth time in four years, elected the Socialists with 120 of the parliament’s 350 seats, but the PP made big gains, winning 88 seats, while Vox won 52, up from 24 seats just seven months ago.
The rise of Vox has been rapid, the party registering only 47,000 votes nationally in the 2016 election. It is led by Santiago Abascal, whose rallying cry of “Spaniards first” has sent chills through European capitals.
In recent years he has jumped on the Catalan independence crisis while pushing far-right agendas on issues such as immigration and domestic violence, arguing that the party simply supports “conservative family values”.
The party leadership has repeatedly used the word “Reconquista” to refer to its intentions, in reference to the religious upheaval of the 15th century, when Muslims and Jews were expelled.
Spain returned to democracy after the death of fascist dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975. Analysts have been quick to draw parallels between Franco and Abascal, who has so far fought his wars over cultural issues including feminism and political correctness.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said of Vox: “They’ll never win an election. What troubles me is the way they’re radicalising and swelling the political discourse of the other two conservative parties.”