The PNV party finished closing the door in Feijóo just before 10:00 pm on Sunday, when half of the votes had been counted, it was already clear that in the best of popular interests its leader would need Vox to get to Moncloa. The option to have an exceptional PP result, a simple majority install without Vox in the equation and default jeltzl support, so complex, but possible, is gone. PNV in the last hours confirmed something that had been obvious since Sunday night, but had been seen coming before. Now, he is preparing negotiations with PSOE where he will seek an investment agreement armored against potential breaches.
Speculation about a possible short-term meeting between Núñez Feijóo and PNV began when his arrival as president of the People’s Party was announced in the spring of last year, replacing the hated Pablo Casado.
Feijóo maintained a good relationship with the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, and was more inclined to understand the plurality of nationalities in Spain. PP’s relations with jeltzales had been severed since the motion of no confidence that, with the endorsement of PNV, led Pedro Sánchez to Moncloa. However, with the arrival of the current president of the People’s Party, the two sides saw the option of building bridges, opening a line of communication, and normalizing relations.
Labor was interested because it focused and opened a path to an alternative force to the far right. Meanwhile, the PNP had always felt more comfortable centralizing the political board, negotiating with each other, and with Vox’s only redline, a formation that for the time being threatened to ban them if it came to power. In Sabin Etxea, they were not comfortable in a void dialogue relationship with PP, plus allowing himself to be liked by famous people forced Sanchez to take care of his relationship with PNV.
Basque nationalists, at times, felt the mistreatment of the head of government during the last legislature and did not see with good eyes how on occasions he seemed to care more about his relations with EH Bildu. The normalization of relations with the People’s Party and the hypothesis of a future understanding allowed them to reassess their votes.
However, that possibility lost steam as PP approached Vox. The turning point, practically of no return, occurred after the elections of 28-AD, with post-election pacts all over Spain, on a local and regional level. PNV has always said that a final understanding with PP cannot happen if Vox is in the equation. In addition, the May elections showed that PNV is suffering obvious wear and tear, which coincides with the rise of EH Bildu. The field of play narrowed in front of the glitzels, with little room for flirting on either side.
The only option
During the last election campaign, the PNV left the door to the People’s Party practically closed. He did it for the two reasons mentioned above: the so-called “whitewashing” of Vox by the People’s Party, and secondly, because of the electoral stakes in an election marked by polarization in the country and with EH Bildu hot on his heels.
However, there is still a loophole for a default agreement. If PP achieved an extraordinary result, reaching 160 seats, the PNV option could have been activated. This path passed with the installation of Núñez Feijóo by a simple majority, without Vox in the equation, and with the sole support of PNV and some other minority partners.
It was a risky choice with less than a year left before elections to the Basque Parliament, but it would have allowed him to position itself as a party with a political vision that managed to keep the far right out, avoid embargoes and finally get the counterparts that would make it profitable in Euskadi.
This scenario was, in any case, far from happening, and 24 hours after the start of the electoral count, Andoni Ortuzar called Figo yesterday to confirm that they would not negotiate his inauguration. The People’s Party had dropped that its leader had contacted the PNV and that he did not get a knockout. It didn’t take long for the jeltzales to qualify for it. They are not for such speculation.
Without Vox, it’s hard; With Vox, impossible
The loophole that remained for a hypothetical understanding with PP evaporated once it saw that Vox votes would be necessary. Agreeing with the popular and without the far right in the equation was very complicated; Meanwhile, Abascal’s need made it completely impossible.
In this case, it is not an electoral account. The impossibility of reaching agreements that pass through Vox lies in the DNA of the Palestinian National Party, a party that keeps its historical memory alive.
On the occasion of EH Bildu
In any event, PNV would have had a very difficult time agreeing with PP on Feijóo’s installation, even without Vox. In May 2018, he supported the budgets of Mariano Rajoy and was believed to have saved the legislature (later a motion of censure would arrive). But at that time, PNV found itself in a position of strength.
EH Bildu was still accused of storming the wonderful Podemos in Euskadi, and the difference in the last election to the Basque Parliament was about 175,000 votes. On Sunday, however, Giltzales received less than a thousand votes for the national coalition, taking into account only the autonomous Basque community. E. H. Beldo also won seats, thanks to the MP he got in Navarre, and adding the votes in both communities, he also won the votes.
The conflict between the two formations was intense and the trends were opposite, so the risk margin for PNV was reduced. In less than a year, perhaps in June 2024, there will be elections for the Basque Parliament.
Meanwhile, PNV will attempt to properly detect the conditions causing this dangerous storm as its erosion and the rise of EH Bildu converge, aided by the practical and social transformation that allows it to be seen as a credible alternative, which is its great goal.
Those from Ortuzar undertook an “active listening” operation a few months ago in which they discovered several factors to correct. The PNV party has come to assume and publicly express that a portion of the electorate, including its own, see “a certain image of nepotism” in his administration, too much “complacency” or the effects of a “masculine” and “out of fashion” party. The 60-page document gives the Giltzals a preliminary diagnosis of what might be wrong, and the latest findings urge them to act immediately.
Negotiating with Sanchez
One of the working fronts for PNV will be possible negotiations with Pedro Sanchez. The focus of Basque politics moved in part to Madrid, and Giltzales would have to press the negotiation of a legislative agreement with Pedro Sánchez.
PNV has already gone ahead with the campaign wanting to protect them from potential breaches of the agreement that they have access to. With the end of the 2019-2023 legislature, they are not satisfied with the degree of compliance with the 12 points of the investment agreement concluded in December 2019. It is clear that an important part of the agreement has not been fulfilled, especially with regard to full compliance with the Statute of Guernica.
It has not yet been determined what contents PNV will seek to include in the new legislature’s agreement, although some of them will not be very different from those included four years ago. The first objective will be to seal, this time and finally, in compliance with the Statute, four decades after it was approved.
Jeltzales will also seek to invest in infrastructure that is the responsibility of the state, prioritizing the arrival of high-speed rail as soon as possible. In connection with this point, PNV will try to involve the central government in the development of the Atlantic corridor and, in particular, in improving high-speed communications on the Bidasoa border.
From there, the PNV will have to strive to find agreements that encourage adherence and support to the Basques. These negotiations, not in vain, could become an asset once EH Bildu announces his support “without a political price” for the possible inauguration of Pedro Sánchez.