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The exception to Europe's rightward turn: Spain


While much of Europe has recently witnessed a resurgence of ultra-right politics, Spain has largely avoided this trend, despite having one of the most troubled economies on the continent. In the English-language edition of El País, Ana Carbajosa tries to find out why. The experts she talks to suggest that Spaniards’ current distaste for nativist politics springs from, among other things, their lingering memories of the Franco dictatorship. Read an excerpt from the article below, or the full text here.

To start with, say the experts, the majority of migrants who came here did so during a construction boom, and they came to work. Migrants were well received because they fed the boom. What’s more, unlike in other European countries, those who came (mainly from Latin America and Romania) shared many cultural and religious traits with Spaniards.

Another reason is that Spaniards are able to identify with the immigrant’s position, probably much more so than say, a German or a Finn. In the 1950s and 1960s, millions of Spaniards went abroad in search of work, and now, the children of those men and women are repeating the process…

[Rafael] Ripoll mentions what may arguably be the main reason Spaniards are not interested in the far right: the 40-year military dictatorship that followed a devastating civil war. This is especially true among the older generations.

That said, things can change, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of General Francisco Franco. As the economic crisis slowly draws to an end, the fight for jobs and subsidies is intensifying, and it might be that just when it seems this country has left the worst behind it, the fragility of the Spanish miracle is exposed.

Image: Fatima Taleb, the first Muslim councilor in the Catalan city of Badalona. Via El País.