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Spain's Far-Right Vox Party Allies With Mainstream Rivals

FILE - Spain's far-right Vox Party President Santiago Abascal arrives at a party rally in Murcia, Spain, Nov. 14, 2018.

Spain's far-right Vox party has staked its claim to a place in the political mainstream, dropping its more extremist positions to help form a regional government in Andalusia as far-right parties build their influence across Europe.

The anti-migrant, anti-feminist and euroskeptic party played kingmaker by supporting an alliance of the conservative Popular Party and the center-right Citizens party that is poised to end 36 years of center-left Socialist party rule in Spain's most populated region.

Vox initially demanded the deportation of 52,000 immigrants and the scrapping of tough laws protecting women from domestic abuse in return for its 12 votes in the 109-member Andalusian parliament.

But the Popular Party and Citizens party balked at those terms, and they didn't feature in a deal announced late Wednesday.

Support for the four-year-old Vox party surged in the Andalusian elections last month, making it the first far-right party to secure parliamentary seats since Spain installed a democratic system of government following dictator Gen. Francisco Franco's 1975 death. It won't have a seat in the new Andalusian government, however.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal tweeted that his party had “consolidated its success by demonstrating its useful role in bringing about change.”

The party's strategy is to make a dent in national politics and European elections in March.

The Andalusian developments agitated politics in the eurozone's fourth largest economy as parties gear up for a general election that could be held as early as this year.

Being unseated in Andalusia, in a vote expected in coming days, deals a severe blow to the Socialist party which runs the country with a minority government.

The Popular Party, meanwhile, is taking the risk of being linked with an extremist party. While it rejected Vox's more extreme demands, the Popular Party agreed to keep bullfighting legal despite calls for its prohibition and gave an undertaking not to introduce any measures that might encourage illegal immigration.

Vox has made the fight against illegal immigration one of its headline policies. The European Union says about 57,000 migrants crossed from North Africa to Spain last year — double the figure for 2017.