This is a follow up to my earlier diary on last weekends elections in Spain’s Basque Country, please unreccomend the prior diary. The results are in and the nationalist coallition of Basque President Ibarretxe has failed to gain an absolute majority (Spanish link), but has emerged as the single largest party in the new parliament.
With 100% of the results in the Ibarratxe’s PNV-EA has taken 29 of the 75 seats in the Basque parliament, 9 short of the absolute majority needed to form a government without support from other parties and 4 less than in the 2001 elections. The local branch of PSOE (the Spanish socialists), has taken 5 more seats than in 2001, for a total of 18. The PP (a right-center party) has lost 4 seats, and now is the 3rd largest bloc in the parliament with 15 seats. The upstart PCTV (Communist Party of the Basque Lands, which recieved the endorsement of Batasuna, ETA’s political wing late in the election) took 9 seats which is a 2 seat improvement over the showing of Batasuna in the 2001 elections. Pulling up the end, EB-IU (the local affiliate of IU, the left coallition that includes the Spanish Communist Party) has remained stable at 3 seats, while Aralar (an offshoot of Batasuna that renounces violence while arguing for indpendence) has taken 1 seat for its first ever presence in the parliament.
Spanish and global media have declared the Ibarretxe plan dead. I’ll believe it when Ibarretxe himself states unequivocally that he’s given up. While Ibarretxe has emerged wounded from the election, the strong showing of the radical nationalist part PCTV could bring greater unrest.
38 votes of the 75 present in the Basque Parliament are needed to form a government and elect a new president. The coallition that ruled in the last parliament was called the triparite and included PNV-EA and EB-IU, but in yesterday’s election this coallition came up with only 32 seats, 7 short of the 38 needed to form a government. Similarly even where the Socialists and the PP able to overcame poisonous relations between them, they only have 33 seats bewtween them, 5 short of the 38 needed to form a gov’t. Any future gov’t is going to be extremely fragile, and speculation (in Spanish)on possible coallitions put forward as the most “stable option” a coallition between the PNV-EA and the Socialist, which would have 47 votes, well above the 38 needed for a majority. Another possibility is that Ibarretxe’s coallition of the PNV-EA would pact with the PCTV, creating a bar governing majority of 38 votes. In the event of a pact with PCTV, EB-IU would probably abandon Ibarretxe.
It’s hard to find a workable government in this mess. Zapatero and the Socialists have already taken a great deal of flak for indulging Ibbaratxe with a vote before the Spanish parliament, and the has been militantly opposed to any thing else than the total rejection of everything Ibarratxe stands for.
The Falange, the principal party apparatus of the Franco dictatorship (The Carlists were merged with the Falange in a forced union during the Civil War) held a 2500 strong demonstration (Sorry, Spanish) for the “Unity of Spain” in Madrid on Sunday. Choice quotes from the march included “Spain indivisible” “Don’t touch the Valley of the Fallen” (This is a symbol of the Franco dictatorship built by the slave labor of thousands of Republican prisoners of war), and my favorite “Send Carod Rovira to the gas chamber” (Carod Rovira is the leader of the left Catalan nationalist party ERC, in coallition at the national level with the socialists. Carod Rovira met with members of ETA in Perpignan, France before the 2004 election creating scandal. Shortly thereafter, ETA announced it was ceasing operations in Catalunya, to support the ambitions of other minority nationalities.) More disturbingly, on Saturday a group of 40 Falangist thugs (Sorry, again Spanish) busted their way into an event at a bookstore feautring Santiago Carrillo, important communist leader from the time of the transicion, and beat poeple who stepped in to protect him. Police say the attack was premeditated and well planned.
Even a consensus coallition between Ibarretxe and the Socialists threatens to unleash a wave of right wing violence on the country, provoking memories of right wing backlash during the early 80’s. If Ibarratxe goes with PCTV, relations with Madrid will be thouroughly poisoned. PCTV was supported by Batasuna, and previously Batasuna refused to pact with the PNV-EA because it favored only outright independence. However the passage of the Ibbarretxe plan through the Basque parliament (which provoked the current situation) was only achieved because 3 of Batasuna’s MPs agreed to support the autonomy proposal. A pact with PCTV could make the Ibarretxe plan look like a love fest with Madrid. The Basques have a way of telling Madrid to fuck off, like when they refused to unseat Batasuna’s representatives following the party’s banning, so outright craziness like telling Madrid that the Basque country is going ahead without Madrid’s approval is a possibility. Noticias de Guinol (Sorry, Spanish) a popular puppet/political comedy show, always makes fun of Ibbarretxe by putting Spock ears on him. The dude’s a little “different”.
Bottom line, even though the press has decided this all is a done deal, the final outcome of all this is still uncertain.