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Basque National Party suffer first election setback in almost 40 years

22 Apr 2024 3 minute read
The PNV’s Imanol Pradales. Photo CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED

Luke James

The Basque National Party (PNV) will not be the biggest party in the Basque parliament for the first time in almost four decades after losing four seats in a historic election.

The PNV, which is centre-right on economics and wants more autonomy rather than independence, maintained their record of winning the popular vote in every election since the Basque parliament was created in 1980.

But the 35 percent of votes they won was only enough to secure 27 of the parliament’s 75 seats – which represented a loss of four and gave them the same number as Bildu.

Bildu gained two seats in each of the three electoral regions in a campaign which saw a new generation of candidates concentrate on social issues like the health service and housing.

As well as extending its lead in its Basque-speaking heartland of Gipuzkoa, Bildu also topped the polls in the Araba region where there are fewer Basque speakers.

That included in the Vitoria-Gasteiz, the Basque capital, where Bildu increased its vote from 20,000 to 30,000. Bildu’s vote also increased in the two largest cities, Bilbao and Donostia-San Sabastian, although the PNV held on to first place in both.

Bildu’s socially-oriented campaign helped it win over former voters of left-wing Podemos, which has been left weakened by splits and lost all of its seats. Sumar, one of its splinter parties, won one seat.

But Bildu appeared to make limited headway in winning votes directly from the PNV, whose vote remained almost unchanged in two of the three regions.

Nonetheless, it is the first time that the PNV won’t hold the largest number of seats since the election of 1986 when the Socialist party emerged victorious.

Basque elections 2024


Bildu spokesperson Oihana Etxebarrieta Legrand said the results showed there is a “desire for change” and called on politicians to “listen to the popular mandate.

However, it is widely expected that the Socialist party, which secured its role as kingmaker by gaining two seats, will maintain its coalition with the PNV.

“We socialists are once again decisive in the Basque Country,” said Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. “We will continue working to improve people’s lives.”

Sachez will want to avoid a repeat of the scandal over a deal which saw it help a Bildu politician become mayor of Pamplona, which conservatives criticised based on the former links between one of Bildu’s member parties with the disbanded Basque terror group ETA.

“Bildu needs first of all to abandon its ambiguity, to recognise that ETA’s violence was a regrettable mistake and to apologise for its consequences and effects,” Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, a PNV member of the European Parliament, told Nation.Cymru.

The PNV’s Imanol Pradales, the 48-year old infrastructure minister who is likely to replace Iñigo Urkullu as Lehendakari (president) in the coming days, recognised the country’s “diversity” and promised to govern with “humility” in his first speech after the results were announced.

Despite a strong likelihood of being locked out of government, Bildu’s presidential candidate, Pello Otxandiano said the election was the start of a “new era” in Basque politics.

Addressing his party’s post-results rally, he said: “Left-wing sovereignty is at the centre of the political map – few would have imagined that was possible four years ago.”

Read more: Basque National Party could fail to win popular vote for the first time since 1980 in Sunday’s election

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Democracy doesn’t exist if you are an ethic minority in your own native land that’s oppressed by a larger Germanic entity to the east. I empathise with my Basque brothers & sisters who voted for independence only for it to be snatched away by an oppressive regressive authoritarian state Spain. We in Cymru know all too well what it’s like to be controlled by a foreign power, denied a voice, and forced to watch on defenseless as our natural resources are stolen, history, language, culture slowly erased.

1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Our history hasn’t been erased, it’s being stolen and passed off as English in origin because of the ease in which we allow the English use of the term British. There are no ancient records of Welsh history as it was only used on masse in Wales in the Victorian times, everything referring to the Welsh in ancient times used terms such as Britons and British. So what happens is if you allow that term to be used by someone else, that history that rightfully belongs to people A. Transfers to people B. This is why we see and hear… Read more »

Adrian Meagher
Adrian Meagher
1 month ago

I note your report did not mention that the electoral system used in this election was the closed party list system also proposed for the Senedd, though with only 3 constituencies rather than 16. One peculiarity is that the 3 constituencies each elect the same number of deputies, even though the largest constituency has 80% more voters than the smallest!

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