Basque Nationalist Parties Omit Calls for Independence in Electoral Programs

Basque nationalist parties in Spain's regional elections avoid independence demands, as ETA's legacy remains a contentious issue. The outcome will shape the region's future relationship with Madrid.

Safak Costu
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Basque Nationalist Parties Omit Calls for Independence in Electoral Programs

Basque Nationalist Parties Omit Calls for Independence in Electoral Programs

The Basque nationalist parties PNV and Bildu have notably excluded explicit demands for independence and a referendum in their electoral programs for the upcoming regional elections. This omission comes despite an increasingly sovereigntist parliament in the Basque Country, where support for independence from Spain remains around 20% among the population.

The leftist coalition EH Bildu, widely regarded as the successor to the political wing of the terrorist group ETA, is projected to materialize as the leading force in the Basque Country, surpassing the moderate PNV party. However, EH Bildu's ties to ETA's violent past have stirred controversy, with the party's candidate facing difficulties in unequivocally condemning ETA as a terrorist organization.

The legacy of ETA continues to be a contentious issue in Spanish politics, and the need for a Basque president who will clearly denounce ETA's violence has become a central topic in the election campaign. While the nationalist parties are expected to secure control of the regional parliament, the question of independence from Spain has scarcely featured in the campaign, as neither EH Bildu nor the more cautious PNV have prioritized the issue of sovereignty.

Why this matters: The Basque Country elections have significant implications for the future of the region and its relationship with the Spanish state. The stance of the leading nationalist parties on independence and their ability to address the controversial legacy of ETA will shape the political landscape and the prospects for greater autonomy or secession.

As the campaign draws to a close, the Basque Country, one of Spain's wealthiest regions with a strong industrial labor force, prepares to cast ballots for the regional government for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. The parties have clashed over various issues, including healthcare, environmental policies, and policing. The PNV, which has governed the Basque Country nearly uninterrupted since 1980, faces a formidable challenge from EH Bildu, whose candidate recently faced a pepper spray attack. The outcome of the elections will determine the direction of the Basque Country and its relationship with Madrid in the coming years.

Key Takeaways

  • Basque nationalist parties exclude independence demands in election programs.
  • EH Bildu, linked to ETA, projected to lead in Basque Country elections.
  • Controversy over ETA's legacy remains a central issue in the campaign.
  • Nationalist parties avoid prioritizing independence despite a sovereigntist parliament.
  • Outcome will shape Basque Country's relationship with the Spanish state.