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Pro-Basque independence party EH Bildu, obtained an outstanding result in last election

A regional election for the Parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community was held on the 12th July.
EH Bildu obtained an outstanding result with an increase of 4 seats and of 6% of the vote.

Since the 2016 election PNV (Renew) and PSE-EE (S&D) have shared a minority Government and have, more often than not, relayed upon the support of the PP (EPP) to pass critical pieces of legislation or approve their budget.

The July 12th election was a snap election, the due date would have been October 2020. But in February Basque Lehendakari (President) decided to call a snap election for April 5th . That election had to be called off due to the Coronavirus Crisis and as soon as the state of emergency was withdrawn, the Lehendakari called a new election.

In both cases, the decision to advance the election had to do with the partisan position of parties in Government, in April they were trying to consolidate the gains every poll was giving them to get a majority and in July they wanted to avoid the possible backlash of the Covid 19 crisis.

Covid19 impact

The election was held under special health measures, mandatory face masks at polling stations (which are mandatory indoors in any case) hidro-alcoholic products distribution and maximum capacity restrictions. The ruling party refused to call off the election despite a Covid 19 outbreak in a 10.000 inhabitants village on the week leading to the election and the fact that the overall R0 had gone up over 1,8 for the Basque Autonomous Community.

People with Covid 19 symptoms was denied the right to vote as the deadline to request a delegate vote (only available for ill people) ended on the 2nd July.

Participation

Participation plummeted to 52.86% the lowest turnout ever in a Basque Autonomical election. The participation has steadily decreased since 1998, but it had never plummeted like this. Covid 19 related fears seem to be the most logical reason for this, but the late date of the Election, mid-July being holiday season, might have had an impact also.

EH Bildu’s Objectives

EH Bildu’s objectives were to gain in number of votes and representatives from the 225,000 (21,1%) votes and 18 seats of the 2016 election and to maintain the growth trend established in the last elections. Elections in April, May and November 2019 which had seen EH Bildu go from strength to strength.

Despite the collapse of the participation which went from 60,02% to 52,86% EH Bildu obtained 4 more seats and 23,516 extra votes, confirming EH Bildu’s growing tendency and reinforcing its role as alternative to the current Government.

Possible majority(s) and Political Scenario

Unfortunately there is very little room for manoeuvre, both PNV and PSE have made it clear through the campaign that their coalition is comfortable for both parties and the most possible outcome would be for them to get into Government together again. In any case the results open interesting possibilities regarding alternative majorities:

  • PNV + EH Bildu (53/75): Pro-sovereignty/independence parties carry over 66% of the seats for self determination.
  • PNV+PSE-EE (41/75): Is the most likely option, both for Government and everyday parliamentary votes.
  • EH Bildu + PSE-EE + Elkarrekin Podemos (38/75): A left majority has been called for by Podemos during the campaign, it is mathematically possible, but for the time being it’s politically unlikely for this majority to operate together. We may see this working in some parliamentary votes.

The PNV/PSE-EE coalition Government will be retaken in all probability and despite the challenges ahead (Covid19, economical crisis…) we will unfortunately face a Government that will keep on the same policies that have brought us to the current situation. But EH Bildu’s position has been very reinforced in every province and will allow us to keep our work to promote an alternative and explore every possible agreement.

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