Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

In 2018, FRONTEX, the European Union’s Border Control and Coast Guard Agency reported that the Western Mediterranean route, stretching from North Africa to Spain, was the most heavily used route for migrants moving from Africa to Europe. Immigrants were driven to Spain with the hope of economic mobility but found a harsh and unwelcoming society (Plann, 2019). The same year immigration increased, support for the populist radical right-wing VOX party, which has an unapologetically anti-immigration platform, also rose dramatically (Turnbull 2019). Before the increase in immigration VOX had no seats in Spanish Congress but has since become the country’s third-largest political party. With the rise of the radical right in Spain, a country which has been free of anti-immigration movements since the death of fascist leader Francisco Franco, it is important to understand if and how the recent influx of large numbers of migrants from Africa have impacted Spanish voter habits and Spanish immigration politics, particularly an increase in anti-immigration sentiment. In this article I argue that although the general Spanish population has not necessarily become more supportive of restrictive policies towards immigrants, VOX’s anti-immigration policy has made it to Spanish Congress by other means. Through an antipathy towards recent independence movements in Catalonia, the party has forwarded a policy of power centralization in the Spanish federal structure (Turnbull, 2019). It was the party’s emphasis on Spanish territorial integrity not its anti-immigration position, that earned VOX its position as the third largest party in Spanish parliament. VOX will likely use its presence in Spanish Congress to continue to restrict Spanish borders, perpetuating the non-electoral evolution of Spanish immigration policy.

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