Spain: PNV holds the government in the Basque vote, joined by Bildu


By John

In a spasmodic head-to-head between the nationalist forces, the Basque Country voted today handing victory to EH Bildu, the party of the independentist left heir of Batasuma, the former political arm of Eta led by Arnaldo Otegi. Succeeded in the feat of almost overtaking the conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), in a tie in number of seats, which gives the hegemonic party for 40 years in the region with three consecutive legislatures behind it, the possibility of renewing the government coalition with the socialists of the PSE of the past legislature. With 97% of the votes counted, Bildu is the candidate for governor Otxandian skin, obtains 27 seats (out of the 75 in the Basque Chamber), 6 more than in the 2020 elections in the midst of the pandemic. The same number as the PNV, as with the candidate for governor, the 49 year old Imanol Pradalessucceeded to Inigo Urkullu, loses 4 of the 31 seats registered in the last legislature. A serious signal for the conservative nationalist party.

In a Basque Chamber where the two nationalist forces together account for 54 of the 75 deputiesit will still be the socialists of the PSE, which confirms itself as the third force with 12 seats (+2) to have the keys to governance. His candidate, Eneko Andueza, has already said he wants to renew the coalition government with the PNV, confirming the agreement in force since 2016. The Spanish socialist prime minister himself, Pedro Sanchez, has ruled out a coalition with Otegi's party, despite the two Basque forces being both vital , together with the Catalanist parties, for external support for the progressive Psoe-Sumar government in Madrid. The People's Party, renewed with the candidate Javier de Andres, which aspired to concentrate the centre-right vote, obtained 7 seats, gaining one. The ultra-right Vox retains its sole representative. While on the left Podemos records a debacle and loses the 6 votes obtained in 2020, remaining outside the Basque Parliament.

Paga the divorce from the confederate left Sumar, the coalition led by deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz, who on his debut in the parliament of Ajuria Enea won only one seat. And even if Bildu's electoral triumph will not translate into an 'abertzalè, radical Basque government, due to the refusal expressed by the other parties to ally with it, the result confirms the consensus on the strategic change desired by Otegi, former leader of Batasuna, to put identity and independence claims into the background – albeit without renouncing them – to focus on social issues and broaden the basis of consensus transversally. Modern progressive, ecologist, feminist, Bildu strengthens itself as the progressive alternative, also thanks to external support for the socialist government of Pedro Sanchez, which opened a window of opportunity for him, with convergence on social policies.

Bildu focused on a new generation represented by Pello Otxandiano, 40 years old, communications engineer with a career in Sweden, managed to arouse hope in the Basque electorate in a new cycle, without the threat of terrorism. And despite the refusal of the Otxandiano himself to qualify ETA as a «terrorist organization», but rather rather an «armed group», which attracted the unanimous condemnation of the parties and victims' associations in the final straight of the campaign. Thirteen years after the he abandonment of the armed struggle by ETA, six after the definitive dissolution, the Basques demonstrate that they want to turn the page on the past, leaving the ghost of ETA behind them. The political scientist Pablo Simon points out that “only 20% are in favor of independence”, so the vote drained by Bildu concerns the debate on public policies and the ability to catalyze tiredness for the status quo and young people's discontent and concerns about the future .