THE CITY of Alicante on Spain’s Costa Blanca is to get a low-emissions zone, albeit with no fines, an ‘antiabortion office’, and a service aimed at getting rid of squatters from residents’ properties.
That’s thanks to a deal reached by the governing conservative Partido Popular (PP) in the local council and the far-right Vox party to approve a budget plan for the coming year.
After the local elections of 2022, the PP has lacked a majority in the council, and so needs to rely on the votes of Vox to pass important legislation such as the budget.
This, however, means that Vox can demand changes to the budget before lending its support, which is why these measures will be included in the upcoming accounts for the city.
In total, Vox presented 26 amendments to the PP’s budget plans, of which the conservative group ended up accepting 20.
Last year, PP Mayor Luis Barcala was unable to reach a deal on the budget and was forced to roll over that of 2022.
The measures demanded by Vox, which is a well-known climate change denier, include a commitment to a low-emissions zone with no fines for infractors.
“There was no need to punish the people of Alicante and condemn small business due to climate fundamentalism,” said Vox spokesperson in the council, Carmen Robledillo, according to Spanish daily El Pais.
The measures imposed by Vox also include the creation of offices ‘to attend to pregnant women with economic, social or family difficulties’, which has been interpreted by critics as an ‘anti-abortion office’, as well as a ‘service to fight against the illegal occupation of housing’.
The deal has, however, been roundly rejected by the opposition. Council for the leftist Compromis party, Rafa Mas, called the agreement ‘shameful, a fraud for citizens’, according to El Pais.
He also warned that the way that the low-emissions zone was being planned, with no fines, could put at risk funding from the European Union to implement the system.
After the local and regional elections in 2023, the PP did a series of deals with Vox either to govern together, such as in the Valencia regional government, or confidence and supply deals such as that in Alicante.
The inconclusive general elections of July 2023 did not, however, see the PP and Vox form a government as had been expected after they fell short of a majority in Congress. Instead, the Socialist Party managed to secure the support of its now-coalition partner Sumar, as well as backing from a series of smaller parties.