In brief

Basque nationalists get two thirds of seats in Basque Parliament

PNV to stay in power with support from Spanish socialists · New statute remains pending issue

PNB leaders, with Urkullu in the middle, celebrate election results.
PNB leaders, with Urkullu in the middle, celebrate election results.
Basque nationalism will control more than two thirds of the seats in the Basque Parliament during the 2020-2024 term, after centre-right PNV and left-wing Euskal Herria Bildu improved their results in yesterday’s election. Basque President Iñigo Urkullu (PNV) has everything in place to lead the government for a third consecutive time if, as expected, his party holds the current agreement with the socialists (PSE-EE-PSOE).

Of 75 seats in Parliament, PNV won 31, up from 28 in 2016. The second place is for EH Bildu, with 22 seats, 4 more than in the previous election. This is the best result ever for the pro-independence alliance.

PSOE placed itself in third position with 10 seats, up from 9. A Podemos-United Left alliance (Elkarrekin Podemos) suffered a sharp decline, from 11 seats in 2016 to 6 now. Meanwhile, a new centre-right Spanish nationalist alliance made up by PP and Citizens’ Party only managed to capture 5 seats (PP had won 9 four years ago). Finally, Spanish far-right Vox entered the Basque legislature for the first time, with 1 seat.

Third time that Basque nationalism exceeds two thirds

Since the end of Franco’s regime, Basque nationalist parties had exceeded two thirds of the seats in the Basque Parliament on two occasions: in the first election in 1980 and in 1986. In the 1990 election, they had won exactly two thirds of the seats.

Since then, Basque nationalists had always been below that threshold, but always maintained a combined absolute majority. The only exception to that was in the 2009 election. At that time, the outlawing of the main left-wing pro-independence parties left Basque nationalism with 35 seats out of 75, and thus allowed the formation of a Spanish nationalist government for the first —and only— time.

New Basque statute still pending

Since it regained the Basque government in 2012, the PNV has been committed to achieving a new statute that would devolve more powers to the Basque Country and would establish a bilateral relationship between the governments of Vitoria and Madrid.

In 2018, PNV and EH Bildu agreed on the bases of such a new statute, based on the work of the Basque Parliament’s Self-government Committee. But the process stalled and, in 2019, three different draft texts were introduced: one together by PNV, PSOE and Podemos —which, moreover, did not contain an agreement on the right to decide—, another one by EH Bildu, and another one by the PP, calling for the process to be paralysed.

In its 2020 manifesto, the PNV argues that the work of the Self-government Committee must go on, allowing to end up agreeing on a relationship between Euskadi and Spain “of a confederal nature” that will recognize the “national identity” of the Basque people.

But the manifesto of their government allies, the Spanish socialists, lies quite far away from those tenets. It speaks of an “updating” of the statute, without making any reference to any further devolution of powers.

EH Bildu’s manifesto indeed includes the same reference as that of the PNV to a new model “of a confederal nature.” But just as the left-wing independence party stresses that Basque self-government cannot be “subordinated” in Spain, the PNV stresses that any change must be made through legal, constitutional mechanisms.