19th May 2024
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Basque elections: PNV survives rise of EH Bildu, and retains absolute majority with PSE-EE

The separatist left-wing coalition EH Bildu celebrated a historic result in the Basque Country’s regional elections on Sunday, but it won’t be enough for them to govern.

The alliance – seen as the heir of the political wing of the defunct terrorist group ETA – and which advocates independence for the region in the north of Spain, won 27 seats (32.5% of the votes) – six more than in the last elections in 2020.

EH Bildu, which groups several parties including the Basque socialist Sortu party, will remain in opposition, however, as late on Sunday it became clear that the governing coalition between the centrist Basque Nationalist Party (EAJPNV) and the PSE-EE wing of the socialist party (PSOE) headed by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez would be able to continue to govern.

The PNV, that has ruled the region for almost 44 years with only a brief three-year pause, also won 27 seats (35.2% of the votes), which combined with the PSOE’s 12 will give the ruling coalition an absolute majority of 39 of the 75 seats in the parliament in Vitoria, the electoral authority said – a loss of two seats. The PP won 7 seats, Sumar and Vox one seat each, with Podemos left without any.

Like EH Bildu, which has former members of the disbanded terrorist organization ETA in its ranks, the PNV also seeks more self determination for the region from the central government in Madrid, but is less radical in its approach.

Iñigo Urkullu, who has been president of the Basque government since 2012, no longer presented himself as the leading candidate this time. He will most likely be replaced as head of government by his party colleague Imanol Pradales (main image).

The terrorist group ‘Euskadi Ta Askatasuna’ (ETA), which translates as ‘Basque Country and Freedom’, was founded in 1959. It fought for an independent Basque Country for decades, carrying out some 3,000 attacks in which 857 people died and 2,600 were injured. After ceasing its armed struggle in 2011, ETA announced its self-dissolution in 2018.

With 2.2 million residents, the Basque Country has the second highest regional income per capita in Spain, after Madrid, which averages around €36,000. Its economy accounts for 5.9% of Spain’s GDP, ranking fifth of Spain’s 17 regions, Caixabank research figures indicate.

It is also the region with the lowest unemployment figure in Spain at 7.9%, according to Basque government figures.

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