Left-wing separatist Bildou aims for historic victory in Basque vote

Local elections will be held in Spain’s northern Basque region on Sunday, with opinion polls predicting a victory for left-wing separatist Bildou, seen as the successor to the political wing of the defunct armed separatist group ETA. .

The result could put Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s ruling Socialist Workers’ Party in the difficult position of having to decide between two main parliamentary alliances.

Opinion polls predict a victory for EH Bildou, a coalition that has sought to break away from the anti-violence ETA in 2011, a bloody struggle for mainland Basque independence that claimed 850 lives.

More than 700 polling stations opened at 9am (7am GMT), with around 1.8 million voters eligible to cast their votes for the 75 members of the Basque Regional Parliament. Voting closes at 8pm.

Bildou, who enjoys huge support among young people thanks to its strong stance on social issues, has been steadily climbing in the polls and is now expected to win the most votes.

“We face an opportunity for change to leave behind outdated policies and ways of doing politics and reverse a sense of inertia,” said the Bildou regional leadership candidate. Pello Ochandianohe told reporters after voting in his hometown of Ochandio.

If the polls are correct, Bildou will likely score a historic victory, narrowly beating the centrist, separatist Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which has ruled the region for decades.

“Everyone voted for the PNV, regardless of their political leanings, because previously it was the only party defending Basque interests,” social worker Elena García, 40, told AFP in Bilbao. , said that the era of ETA is over. In the past.

“But now, if you are left-wing and socially minded, you will vote for Bildou,” Garcia added.

– Socialists as kingmakers –

Surveys suggest that neither party is expected to win an absolute majority, leading to a close race with the local branch of the Socialist Party as the kingmaker.

Mr Sánchez’s Socialist Party-led government relies on significant support to govern from a network of regional alliances, including both the PNV and Bildou, meaning the decision could come at the expense of Mr Sánchez. There is.

But Eurasia Group analyst Federico Santi said: “The election result is unlikely to threaten the stability of the (Sanchez) government.”

Until now, the PNV has ruled the Basque Country in coalition with the Socialist Party, but the Socialist Party has already excluded support for Bildou, whose leader Arnaldo Otegui was convicted as an ETA member but later joined the group. He is credited with helping turn the country away from violence.

Socialist candidate Eneko Andueza told public radio: “Condemning terrorism is an unpaid debt[of Bildou]to Basque society and unless they do that, we will not do any business with them.” Told.

The issue was barely talked about during the campaign until earlier this week, when Ochandiano sparked outrage by not calling ETA a “terrorist organization” but only an “armed group.”

“Even if Bildou were to win, he would not be able to govern because no party is willing to form an alliance with Bildou,” said Pablo Simón, a political scientist at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid.

~Rich area~

The Basque Country, with 2.2 million inhabitants, has the second highest regional income per capita in Spain, after Madrid, which averages around 36,000 euros (about $38,400).

The country’s economy accounts for 5.9% of Spain’s gross domestic product and ranks fifth out of Spain’s 17 regions, according to Caixa Bank’s findings.

The region also has the lowest unemployment rate in Spain, at 7.9%, according to Basque government statistics.

The father of Basque nationalism is Sabino Arana, who founded the PNV in 1895. His ultra-Catholic, anti-Spanish ideology grew out of his fierce opposition to the thousands of Spaniards flooding into the region as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

ETA was born in 1959 out of a split within the PNV’s youth movement, which was angry at the party’s inability to stand up to Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

In the first recorded act of bloodshed, ETA militants shot dead a police officer in the city of Villabona on June 7, 1968, according to documents from Spain’s Interior Ministry.


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