PNV’s CEO, Andoni Ortuzar, preferred to stay with the positive on election night: with five deputies, they will once again have a group in Congress and will be decisive in governing. In this sense, Giltzales achieved two of their great goals in an election too complicated for their interests. On the other hand, a more in-depth analysis provides alarming data for jeltzals which, far from concordant, should lead to a profound reversal.
PNV faced the generals with one eye on Euskadi and the other tracking what might happen in Spain as a whole. Giltzales was very concerned that PP and Vox could achieve an absolute majority. From his point of view, this could mean a setback in terms of autonomy and in terms of rights and freedoms, while it would affect coexistence, and perhaps lead to an extremism of positions in the Basque Country and Catalonia. This was the scenario they feared the most, and luckily for them, it didn’t happen. The panorama drawn today is uncertain, but the PNV breathed a sigh of relief, and will probably remain key to ensuring governance in Spain. This was the best news of the night for the jeltzals.
In addition, the PNP had set a minimum goal: to have five MPs and the ability to form its own group. Despite the loss of a seat, the PNP has achieved this goal and Aitor Esteban will once again lead the so-called Basque group in Congress. The good news so far.
Conflict adapts EH Bildu
Sunday’s elections in the Basque Country took on the appearance of a second attack after the municipal and regional elections of 28-M, in which the PNV party received 86,000 votes. EH Bildu then came out stronger, and although he did not win votes in the autonomous community of Euskadi, he did more mayors and councilors. Moreover, taking into account Navarra, he received more votes than Giltzales. The agreement with the SWP allowed the National Party to maintain a large part of its institutional strength, however, EH Bildu was directly waiting for them at that point for the second round, arguably putting the glitzels back on the ropes.
With its strict presence to the Basque Autonomous Community, the PNV party received 275,782 votes, compared to 274,676 for EH Bildu; That is, Giltzales imposed less than a thousand votes. They both have five seats in this community, and by the way, such a very strong PSOE in Euskadi, favored in the course of the general election and achieving its best result since 2008.
But the tiebreaker came looking down on Navarra. EH Bildu added almost 60,000 more votes in the foral community, while the Navarrese coalition in which the PNV party, Geroa Bai, takes part, has very modest results. The Coalition of Albertzal took second place in this community and took another seat, the sixth, which allowed it to win over the PNV party.
Moreover, the PNV won only in Bizkaia, while it was the third political force in Gipuzkoa (after EH Bildu and PSOE) and the fourth in Alava (also before PP). Within the party, there is concern about a map in which Geltzal’s hegemony is clearly defined only in a large part of Bizkaia, while the Albertzal coalition is gaining weight in the entire Basque Country.
Worst result since 1989
What is more troubling, however, is yesterday’s result, relatively given the historical development. Almost 276,000 votes from the PNV party yesterday is the second worst result in its history, after the one they achieved in the 1989 general election. At the time, Giltzales was going through a severe internal crisis as a result of the split: Lindacary Carlos Jaricuitxea had just founded EA. PNV remained at 252,119 votes.
Yesterday, the National Party lost 104,000 votes compared to the general elections in November 2019, which is an electoral repeat. The loss is even greater if the data is compared to the general elections in April of the same year: Ortuzar members received 120,000 fewer votes than the general elections in April 2019. In addition, they have lost 47,000 votes since the municipal and regional elections in May, just two months earlier. Data is destructive and forces thinking away from complacency.
The National Progressive Party was the only one among the traditional parties that suffered from the crisis of representation that occurred in the last decade. It was also the formation best adapted to the political scene of the Basque Country without ETA. However, the loss of more than 120,000 votes in four years shows that the PNV is at a complex crossroads and that it is suffering severe erosion.
EH Bildu continues to grow
This trend also coincides with a good moment for EH Bildu. In May he achieved his best result in the municipal and regional elections. Yesterday, he achieved his best record in the general election, surpassing in votes, though not in seats, the data that Amaiur found in 2011 (he received about 10,000 more votes, including Navarra).
The battle between PNV and EH Bildu has been adjusted to 11 months before the elections for the Basque Parliament. In the last Basque Country elections, in 2020, the distance amounted to 10 seats and 100,000 votes in favor of the PNV party. Yesterday, they tied the votes in the Euskadi district. You obviously don’t vote similarly in general elections and Basque chamber elections, but four years ago, in November 2019, the PNV party received almost 160,000 votes for the National Coalition in general elections, considering the Basque Autonomous Community.
The fight is very close and will be decided in the coming months. The key point will be to see who will be the candidate for both PNV – and it remains to be seen if Urkullu is presented for a fourth time – and EH Bildu. In some Basque elections, the advantageous vote could play in favor of the PNP, which could receive transfers from the People’s Party and, more generally, from those who feared eventually becoming CEO of EH Bildu.
The Abertzal Alliance also has limited potential for alliance scalability, as noted in the post-election charters of municipal and regional governments. Its main ally in the Euskadi region is Podemos, although EH Bildu is growing, to a large extent, at the expense of this formation, which may reach the polls next year at lower levels. The Coalition of Apertzal will not have an easy time forming alliances, though the expectation of change may be in his favour, and it is not written that he cannot rule if he scores too huge and is the first force.
change of course?
In any case, other than what might happen next year, it seems clear that a change of course is taking place in the Basque Country, though not in the terms in which EH Bildu claims. It is not a question of dominance by moving from the PNP to the Appertazal coalition, but rather that the rotation options will multiply in the various Basque institutions.
This new paradigm comes, on the one hand, thanks to the fact that EH Bildu is establishing itself as a reliable alternative thanks to a pragmatic turn that expands its social and political space. What she didn’t achieve in 2011, she achieves now, with the help of my generation changing in her favor.
Meanwhile, the PNV is suffering from erosion due to a host of factors that are best explored. After the May elections, a professor of private international law, Juanjo Alvarez, and a lawyer, Aitor Salinas Armendariz, a grassroots party campaigner, pointed out to some in A report on La Vanguardia. Additionally, a few months ago Giltzalez promoted a process of “active listening” among armed groups that left him with some clues as to what those sins were causing him to lose so much support in so short a time.
Just four years ago, in 2019, PNV achieved exceptional records in the municipality, and to a lesser extent in general. Just four years later, the Basque community is not responding in the same terms. As for the jeltzals, who have historically played a central and cohesive role in Basque society, they have less than a year to discover the causes of discontent and try to reconnect.
PNV completely rules out supporting Feijóo and asks Sanchez for ‘strategic decisions’
The PNV party almost completely closed the door to Alberto Núñez Feijóo during the campaign, and now, as soon as the election results are seen, it is completely closed. Some excellent hypothetical results for the People’s Party and the possibility of inauguration with a simple majority, thanks to the votes of the PNP and other partners such as the Canary Islands Alliance, could have put Giltzales at a difficult crossroads: supporting Vigo, despite the risks involved in the Basque elections in 11 months, in exchange for appearing as a party that blocked the far-right’s access to government. The election results, however, do not give this option. And PNV closed the door on PP definitively today: “It is excluded. In recent weeks, Figo has been whitewashing and legalizing the institutionalization of the Vox party with government agreements that limit undemocratic positions,” said Etxo Atutxa, the party’s president in Bizkaia.
Meanwhile, Giltzalez began to put a price tag on supporting the possible inauguration of Pedro Sánchez: “The need to take more strategic decisions around the Basque Country and Catalonia opens up very seriously to achieve a consensus that strengthens the government’s potential.” He added that he would have to make a serious proposal to the Basques and Catalans.