IT'S a major year in Spain.

In May, regional elections involving 12 local governments will be held – and later this year, there will be a general election.

Concerns are being raised that these ballots come as far right-wing parties gain popularity among voters, with the extent to which fascism has been expelled from the country under debate.

Why is fascism making a return?

After the 2008 economic crisis, which the country never really recovered from, and the Covid pandemic, Spanish citizens are tired of never-ending cuts, along with the instability the country keeps going through.

The People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialists Workers Party (PSOE) have been the two ruling parties since 1982. The presidency goes from one to the other. From right to left-wing.

The tensions arising after the Covid pandemic have left many feeling uncomfortable with the current state of the country.

Even back in 2013 when Vox emerged, many were curious to see what this new party was all about. It was founded by former members of the right-wing PP.

The National: A rally for Vox in April 2019.A rally for Vox in April 2019. (Image: Getty Images)

For the first time in 80 years, Spain has a coalition government, which is made up of PSOE and Unidas Podemos, a smaller progressive party.

In May 2022, Pablo Iglesias, Unidas Podemos’s party leader and vice-president of the coalition government, announced he was retiring from politics.

This was yet another hit to the current government.

Disappointed with the choices the coalition government has made, Spanish society seems to be shifting away from the left wingto the right.

Alfonso León, 60, is a Spaniard with an opinion you’ll hear shared by many: “To me, it is outrageous to think the fascism my parents and grandparents fought so hard to stop is slowly making a comeback, but I do see a high possibility of this happening, not at the same scale, but more like a sort of version of it.”

The right wing and their ties to Franco

PP is a liberal-conservative party with a Christian-democratic ideology created by six MPs under Franco’s dictatorship and originally in memory of the dictator.

The party is also well-known for not participating in memorials dedicated to Franco’s victims. When the debate over Franco’s exhumation was taking place, the party choose to not comment on the situation.

Meanwhile, Vox’s current president, Santiago Abascal, has been known to have a very close friendship with Franco’s family, especially with the dictator’s great-grandson, who is currently the head of the Francisco Franco Foundation. And the ties the political party has with the Franco family go further than just a friendship.

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Many Vox party members are also members of Franco’s foundation, created to commemorate the dictator.

Moreover, as recently as 2016, Vox deputies were seen at a mass in memory of Franco and José Primo de Rivera, who is considered the founder of Spanish fascism.

Vox have also become known for their use of the Spanish flag as part of their logo. This has translated into many not feeling comfortable with the flag.

Franco’s legacy

The period in Spanish history when Francisco Franco ruled Spain took place between 1939 and 1975, after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

The National: Franco died in 1975Franco died in 1975 (Image: -)

The war was fought between Republicans and Nationalists. The Nationalists were victorious, which marked the true start of Franco’s rule. The president of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory Emilio Silva said: “We will never really know how many communal pits or victims there really are.”

It is important to know this dictatorship only ended after Franco’s death, and still to this day has many consequences in modern Spain. The monarchy being one of them. The Spanish royal family was chosen by Franco, who was good friends with emeritus King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

This meant Spain went from being a republic to being a monarchy. Juan Carlos is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931.

Spain has a parliamentary monarchy, which means the king is head of state, but the executive and legislative powers are concentrated in the country’s parliament.

Another of Franco’s policies that continue to this day is that the Spanish monarch must be a male.

The current Spanish king is the youngest of Juan Carlos’s children – however, he is the only male.

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During the dictatorship, Spain was denied being part of the UN because of Franco’s fascism.

In addition, many countries decided to close their borders to Spain. Women were also not allowed to vote, as he revoked universal suffrage.

Amnesty International said: “Victims of crimes under international law committed during the civil war and the Franco regime continue to see their rights to truth, justice and reparation denied.”

What’s next for Spain?

The polls point to PP being the new head of government, as PSOE and Unidas Podemos continue to see their numbers fall. PP and Vox have maintained that they would make a pact and rule Spain together – which would mean the Spanish Parliament would mostly consist of the right wing.

With a poll at the end of March putting the PP at 31.6%, PSOE at 26.6%, Vox at 14.7%, and Unidas Podemos at 10%, and Ciudadanos at 1,8%, according to poll results at the end of March, the possibility of a PP-Vox coalition government by PP and Vox is ever-growing.

PP currently have 88 MPs and Vox have 52 MPs out of the 349 total of parliament deputies.

Eduardo Alonso, 18, is a student who is voting for the first time this year.

He said: “It’s a terrifying thought that PP and Vox might have a coalition government, as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I can’t stress enough how these political parties will strip my community from our rights.”

As long as Spain chooses to not acknowledge its past, Franco’s heritage will keep haunting the nation.

Meanwhile, experts estimate that 2567 mass graves and more than 114,000 bodies are still to be found.

Considering the parties which the polls are currently most favourable for, and the way Europe is slowly shifting back to the right, a Spain ruled by right and far-right parties strongly tied to Franco is a danger that must be considered.