The regional government elections were held in the Basque region, País Vasco, a month ago. It now appears that a coalition between PSOE and the Partido Popular will rule. This unlikely partnership of centre right and centre left national parties has been created in order to prevent the moderate nationalist PNV and its leader, Juan José Ibarretxe, from retaking power in the Basque region.
Despite the effects of the recession the socialists, who govern in Madrid, were the second biggest party after the regional elections having gained seven seats and hence its leader Patxi López will be the next lehendakari or president of the Basque Government. In return for backing his nomination the Partido Popular will take the presidency of the parliament in Vitoria.
Whoever is chosen by the PP to take the presidency of the parliament he or she will be the first member of that party to hold the post and only the second non-nationalist since the parliament’s creation in 1980.The two parties will then split the majority of the governmental posts between them whilst allowing for any other political groups that might back them.
The only two things that unite PSOE and the PP in this endeavour are their mutual support for a united Spain and their loathing for the PNV. They have dismissed with contempt the belief of the PNV that it had a “divine right” to govern. Yet can these two war horses of the Spanish political scene pull the Basque cart in the same direction?
They are at loggerheads at a national level at a time when Spain is in crisis so that is not a good omen. However in the Basque region the stakes are even higher. If the two national parties cause the Basque cart to tumble then there is a real danger that they will drive their some of their voters into the arms of the PNV and some of its members in to extreme groups supporting the terrorist group ETA.
At this time the majority of Basque people do not support the ETA ideals of a separate nation, especially one built on bloodshed. It would be a tragic irony if this marriage of PSOE and the PP that has seemingly been made in heaven – ends up taking the region to hell!
(2009 Election results: PNV 30 (29), PSOE 25 (18), PP 13 (15), Aralar 4 (1) Others 3 – 2005 results in brackets)