Spain’s Rural Parties Look to Shake Up the Status Quo

Spain’s Rural Parties Look to Shake Up the Status Quo
Villagers attend a campaign meeting for the Spanish far-right party Vox at a bar in Brazatortas, on the edge of the Alcudia valley, central Spain, April 10, 2019 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Regional political parties are springing up across rural Spain and banding together under the platform “Emptied Spain,” in an effort to push the big-city elites who dominate Spanish politics to address the challenges facing rural inhabitants. As rural populations have dwindled in recent decades, so have public services in those regions, causing a vicious cycle of depopulation and decline. Inspired by the success of the tiny political party “Teruel Exists,” which has leveraged a single swing vote in parliament to advocate for rural issues, these parties are preparing to run in the next general election to establish a stronger voice for rural regions in parliament. 

Significantly, the parties that make up Emptied Spain identify as neither left nor right. This is a novel approach in Europe, where disenchanted residents of the countryside have largely been seen as easy targets for right-wing populists and their outrage machines. 

In some cases, it is true that rural Europe has provided fertile ground for populists railing against “out of touch” urban elites. The Brexit referendum, in which 53 percent of British farmers and 55 percent of rural communities in England voted in favor of leaving the EU, is perhaps the most notable—and widely cited—example. Yet a closer look reveals a more complex story in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the Leave vote was much less consistent and included pockets of Remain votes. 

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review