As Spain approaches its third general election in four years, the pace and the political rhetoric has increased exponentially. The official electioneering period will last from April 12 to 26, with the vote taking place on Sunday, April 28, but, unsurprisingly, campaigning began weeks ago. Spain will also stage municipal, autonomous and European elections on Sunday, May 26.
The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez of the socialist PSOE party, was forced to call the election in February after failing to get his 2019 Budget through Parliament. This was caused by Catalan separatist Deputies, who had previously been shoring up his minority administration, refusing to back him in return for his refusal to discuss self-determination for their region.
Cataluña remains at the heart of political speculation as the trial continues of those charged with staging an illegal referendum on independence from Spain in October 2017. The present regional leader, Quim Torra, a hard-line separatist, angered the Junta Electoral Central (Central Electoral Board) by displaying yellow ribbons on campaign banners hung on municipal buildings. Partisan symbols on buildings owned or run by public authorities are banned during election time, and as the ribbon has become a symbol of support for those on trial, Torra was ordered to remove it. He finally complied by replacing the yellow ribbon with a white and red ribbon.
Meanwhile, the far-right party Vox, which won its first-ever seats in Andalucía’s early regional election December, continues to court controversy. Last month, only days after 50 people died in a mass shooting in New Zealand, the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal, called for a complete overhaul of Spain’s criminal code to “widen the concept of legitimate defence.” He says he wants to make it easier for individuals to own a firearm and to ensure that anyone shooting a home invader is not prosecuted.
Meanwhile, a homophobic pseudo-historian nominated by Vox to stand for election in the Castilla-La Mancha region has dropped out. Fernando Paz, who cited a “media hunt” against him in explaining his decision to resign, has previously said that the facts concerning the Holocaust are “far from having been established with accuracy” and called the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals a “farce.”