The País Vasco is the Basque Country, Spain’s answer to Northern Ireland. Rugged, beautiful, with a strange language unconnected to the main patois and a fierce independent spirit.
It recently had an election, along with Galicia. If you want the breakdown on the seats won, click here. Basically, PNV (the main nationalist party that has controlled the regional parliment since democracy) got 30 seats. PSE-PSOE got 24. P.P. got 13. Aralar (another nationalist party) got 4. EA 2. EB 1. UPD 1.
This meant that Juan José Ibarretxe Markuartu, commonly known as Ibarretxe has been the Lehendakari (Regional President – it’s a Basque term) since 1999, and his party (the PNV – Partido Nacionalista Vasco, Basque Nationalist Party) have controlled Parliment since democracy.
The position of Lehendakari is one that is voted by the members of the Regional Parliment, you need a majority of votes to be sworn in. It’s an important and ceremonial position, and the fact that a strong Nationalist has always occupied the post means that the flicker of independence has always lighted the fresh faces of young students and other idealists.
Until now, when ZP and Rajoy (national leaders of the PSOE and P.P. parties, PSOE being the ruling socialist party and PP the conservative opposition) have apparently agreed to an unholy alliance, and will vote together in the Lehendakari elections to appoint PSOE regional leader Patxi López to the post. For the first time ever, it seems as if the Basque Country will have a Madrid stooge at the helm. Unless the nationalists stop squabbling and get together. Which they probably won’t, as UPyD fell out with PNV after the last elections when they were sidelined and have also promised to join the PSOE/PP alliance. Which gives Patxi a majority of votes.
To put this in perspective for the Brits, it would be as if Labour and the Tories formed a coalition government in Scotland with the avowed aim of ousting “The Salmon” from his position, then dissolved the coalition.
There are already frantic shouts of betrayal from among the masses (who, understandably, feel a bit annoyed by this), and personally I take my hat off to old Patxi, who seems to be walking into the lions’ den with his eyes open.
It’s worthing noting that ABC seems to think that President-for-life Chaves of Andalucia, who let’s face it, knows a thing or two about staying in power, has apparently acted as kingmaker and given his blessing to the union. ZP has promised to “assume the fallout” from this.
No word from ETA, the terrorist group, although analysts here at Jackson Central assume that they’re over the moon about this as it will give them fresh ammo in the political war. “Not content with banning any legitimate party that clamours for independence” will run the argument, reminding the voters of the fiasco over the D3M party and others that were banned shortly before the election, “the Madrileño left and right come together to keep us under the jackboot of oppression! To arms, comrades! Euskadi Ta Askatasuna!”
And let’s not forget that a President who has a minority in Parliment, and only got in because of political horseplay with his opposition isn’t going to have a very succesful reign. Makes me wonder what the PP were promised in exchange… I’m sure it’s nothing big. Ahhem. The next few days promise to be interesting…
Oh, and a final point that ocurrs to me: If this gives ETA a boost (frankly, I thought they were all dead), is the first thing they’re going to do is come down to our beaches this summer and let off car bombs as they did a few years ago? Is that why Chaves was consulted?
Grame from South of Watford has some more insightful analysis here.