David Duke, the former leader of Ku Klux Klan and one of America’s most virulent racists, congratulated the Spanish far right party Vox on its weekend election victory, the latest evidence that the global far right is uniting.
Vox, which has called for the expulsion of all illegal immigrants and the end of regional autonomy in Spain, won 12 seats on Sunday in the regional elections for Andalucia. While that makes it only the fifth most popular party in Andalucia, Vox was also the party that gained the most votes. Its inclusion in the Andalucian parliament is the first time since the death of strongman Francisco Franco in 1975 that a far right party has won political power in Spain.
Spain, Andalusia regional elections (99% counted)
PSOE-S&D: 28.0% (-7.4)PP-EPP: 20.8% (-5.9)Cs-ALDE: 18.3% (+9)AA-LEFT: 16.2% (-5.6)VOX-ECR/ENF: 11% (+10.5)PACMA-LEFT: 1.9% (+1.1)AxSi-*: 0.6% (+0.6)
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) December 2, 2018
In response, David Duke tweeted out his congratulations to Vox for the victory. “VOX triumphs in Andalusia! 12 seats and the end of the socialist regime #EspañaViva makes it history and shows that change is possible,” he tweeted earlier this week. The Reconquista begins in the Andalusian lands and will be extended in the rest of Spain #AndalucíaPorEspaña.”
Duke was not the only far right figure to congratulate Vox. The Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders also tweeted his praise, while the French far right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted that it was an “extremely significant moment for a young and dynamic movement.”
Duke’s endorsement of Vox is unlikely to be met with joy by the party’s leaders. El Pais reported that after his endorsement, the phrase Ku Klux Klan became a trending topic within Spain. What the tweet does show however is the growing co-operation between the far-right in different countries so as to create a wider, global political movement instead of scattered and divided political parties.
British far-right activist Tommy Robinson, who is also currently an adviser to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), has been bankrolled by the right-wing American think tank The Middle East Forum and was also invited in November to attend a Congressional group chaired by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) — although his visa was denied.
In July meanwhile, Trump’s ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, told Breitbart he wanted to “empower conservatives” across Europe, calling Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has formed a far-right government in his country, a “rock star.” Rep. Steve King has also made frequent trips to Austria.
“[The far-right] actively seek to overcome ideological and geographic differences for the sake of expanding their influence, reach and impact,” a report from the Institute of Strategic Dialogue warned last year.
While many of these global far-right movements share similar political aims, notably the crackdown on any sort of immigration, Spain has a unique factor driving Vox’s rise. Voters are concerned with immigration, but they are equally invested in regional autonomy and the perception that regions, specifically Catalonia, are trying to untie themselves from Spain as a whole.
“The rise of Vox is a reaction to the Catalan independence push and the fact it was the Popular Party which handled the crisis,” Pablo Simón, a politics professor at Carlos III University in Madrid, told Politico.
“There’s a perception that the governments in Madrid, both the conservative and the new Socialist one, have lacked a firm hand against the separatists.”