Far right takes office in string of Spanish cities

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Spain’s far-right party Vox took power Saturday in coalition with the conservative Popular Party (PP) in 10 major cities, a tie-up that could be repeated after a national election next month.

The mediaeval city of Toledo and the northern city of Burgos were among the municipalities to swear in a PP-Vox coalition government following local and regional elections on May 28.

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Vox said in a statement it would seek to abolish “ideological” city departments, such as those dedicated to promoting equality, which “squander” money and have not solved people’s “real problems.”

The main opposition Popular Party and Vox performed well in last month’s polls, prompting Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to call an early general election on July 23.

Most surveys suggest the PP will win the most votes in the snap elections but will need to form a potentially awkward alliance with Vox to be able to form a government.

Sanchez has made the threat posed by a government that includes the anti-feminist and social conservative party a central plank of his re-election campaign.

A deal reached between the PP and Vox on Thursday to govern the eastern Valencia region following last month’s election quickly sparked controversy.

The head of Vox in Valencia, Jose Maria Llanos, sparked an outcry after he said “gender violence does not exist.”

PP leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo, who cultivates an image as a moderate, immediately sought to distance himself, saying in a tweet that “gender violence does exist.”

“The PP will not take a step backwards in the fight against this scourge,” he added.

Vox has until now only governed in a coalition with the PP in the sparsely populated region of Castilla y Leon near Madrid.

Founded in 2013 by disgruntled former members of the mainstream PP, Vox is the third-largest party in parliament.

Among the other cities where a PP-Vox coalition government was sworn in on Saturday was Alcala de Henares, the birthplace of the author Miguel de Cervantes, and Mostoles, a southern Madrid suburb.

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