Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Jennifer Yoder

Second Advisor

Carrie LeVan


The “Spanish Exception” refers to Spain’s lack, until recently, of a populist right-wing party. Vox became the first party to the right of the conservative PP to win seats in a regional election in 2018 and in general elections in April and November of 2019. Vox is currently the third largest political party in the Spanish parliament, bringing an end to Spanish exceptionalism. This thesis addresses the rise of Vox through a conceptual framework of political opportunity structure. The framework allows for multiple explanations to account for Vox’s sudden breakthrough. I argue that opportunities present in 2018 and 2019 at institutional, party system, and voter behavior levels combined to create a favorable moment for a right-wing populist party to gain electoral success in a country once thought to be immune from such parties. Given the recentness of Vox’s electoral success, this thesis adds a new case to the vast body of literature that addresses right-wing populist successes. Furthermore, it expands on explanations for such successes developed over the previous forty years of right-wing scholarship.


Vox, Spain, right-wing populism, political opportunity