EH Bildu candidate Pello Otxandiano. SUR
National politicians keep close eye on Basque regional election this Sunday

National politicians keep close eye on Basque regional election this Sunday

If EH Bildu emerges as biggest party as polls suggest, talks on regional government could prove uncomfortable for Pedro Sánchez's Socialists

Neil Hesketh


Friday, 19 April 2024, 17:11


Voters in Spain's northern Basque Country go to the polls this Sunday (21 April) to decide their next regional parliament. In the last election in 2020 the PNV centre-right Basque nationalist party came first and formed a coalition government with the PSE Basque Socialists.

This time around, all eyes will be on the performance of left-wing EH Bildu, a political group with members historically associated with the now-defunct Basque terrorist organisation ETA.

EH Bildu's support has been growing steadily in recent years. Opinion polls for Sunday have it winning slightly more votes than the PNV nationalists for the first time, with around a third of the vote each. As usual, Spain's two main parties, the Socialists and conservative Partido Popular, are expected to win much fewer votes than those two Basque parties.

Agreement over a new Basque regional government could prove uncomfortable for the Socialist party of Pedro Sánchez nationally if EH Bildu is the biggest single party in the result. EH Bildu's six MPs in Madrid are needed to prop up Sánchez as prime minister and that party is likely to want Socialist support regionally if their party wins on Sunday.

EH Bildu's unclear position on condemning ETA could make those talks difficult nationally for Sánchez. EH Bildu's lead candidate Pello Otxandiano was criticised this week for failing to call ETA a terrorist group in a radio interview.

On the PNV side, its lead candidate, Imanol Pradales, was forced to go to hospital while campaigning this week after being attacked with pepper spray by a member of the public.

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