The Basque campaign ends in an all-out battle between the PNV and EH Bildu

The last week of the electoral campaign has led to a harsh confrontation between the PNV and EH Bildu, a struggle that at times is exceeding the limits of fair play.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
25 May 2023 Thursday 04:50
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The Basque campaign ends in an all-out battle between the PNV and EH Bildu

The last week of the electoral campaign has led to a harsh confrontation between the PNV and EH Bildu, a struggle that at times is exceeding the limits of fair play. Once the controversy over the lists of the Abertzale coalition has been left behind, the two great formations of Basque politics seek to mobilize the electorate and shake the bag of undecideds that all the polls show. The PNV has opted to try it through the clash with EH Bildu, a circumstance that the Abertzale coalition takes advantage of to censor a campaign against its formation in which they would be "transferring all the red lines".

The PNV had focused its campaigns in recent years on aspects related to management; in the data and in the comparison with other territories or other management precedents. The jeltzale formation, however, perceives that it is not enough to mobilize a discontented and demobilized part of the electorate.

The words of the president of the EBB of the PNV, Andoni Ortuzar, at a rally in San Sebastián this Wednesday were expressive. The jeltzale leader appealed to people who "legitimately are unhappy" about problems such as mobility, works or tourism in San Sebastián, but warned that "if because of their legitimate anger, they are not going to vote and they do not vote for the PNV", they are "opening the door for Bildu to return".

The PNV does not perceive a significant transfer of votes to other parties, but rather a high percentage of undecideds and a potentially large bag of abstentionists. At the same time, the surveys show that the electorate of EH Bildu is mobilized, so that the jeltzales seek that extra mobilization appealing to the fear that the abertzale coalition will reach power, a strategy that also operates in the parameters of mobilizing the useful vote to the detriment of PSE or PP.

In order to attract that vote that can stay at home, the PNV is looking for a tough confrontation with EH Bildu; position itself as the party that is going to fight them electorally and that discusses their frameworks for debate. In recent days, however, the turn this confrontation is taking has been surprising.

The week began with a controversy surrounding the PNV candidate in the Álava town of Ribera Alta, Javier Gallego, the current mayor. Ortuzar denounced that supporters of EH Bildu had ridiculed his candidate in a video, who is also a well-known drag queen who acts under the name La Polaka. In a video that circulated on the Telegram channel of the abertzale coalition, a performance by La Polaka could be seen with a superimposed comment that read the following: “Does this seem serious to you?”

Ortuzar responded harshly to the aforementioned video: "Those who pass for being the defenders, of minorities, the defenders of plurality, of diversity, who fill their mouths talking about the defense of the rights of all people, will and it turns out that they do not want a person to be mayor, not because he is a good or bad politician, but because he is a drag queen and it must be a joke, it must be an indignity”.

From EH Bildu they responded that "from the first minute" they informed the PNV of Álava that they had nothing to do with the aforementioned video, which would have been made by supporters, but without authorization from the party.

The witness to this controversy was taken by another of a similar nature, with a video published through social networks as the protagonist.

The president of the PNV, Andoni Ortuzar, launched the dart by mentioning in a rally an anonymous video in which the patrimony of Oskar Matute, spokesman for EH Bildu in Congress, is questioned.

Specifically, Ortuzar criticized the fact that, despite having "a salary of 120,000 euros", he resides in an Officially Protected Housing (VPO), while he also has "a property that he rents in Bilbao" and "a little chalet in Labastida ". Matute has responded by correcting each of these statements. As he has indicated, she receives 1,850 euros in 14 payments, the rest of the money being for the coalition. In addition, he has indicated that he lives in a Local Protection Housing that the Barakaldo City Council granted to his wife 20 years ago, while his apartment, for which he still pays the mortgage, is rented subject to the conditions of Alokabide, a Basque Government company “for the development of the social function of renting”. "If I wanted to get more money for it, I would put it on the free market," he said.

Matute has finally indicated that the house in Labastida mentioned by Ortuzar was built by his wife's grandfather and that today it is shared by two families. "The PNV must be very bad and desperate to resort to Trumpism and fake news," he censured.

The president of the PNV, for his part, has responded by making him see a widespread sensation in the jeltzale social environment. "The hurt and indignation that he has felt, in the PNV we have been feeling it for many years, with unfair accusations by the nationalist left." I know you

The Abertzale coalition has taken advantage of these latest controversies to draw up a story about how the electoral campaign is developing and keep its supporters mobilized. “All lines are being crossed in this electoral campaign. Let no one wait for us in that debate in the mud; This debate is not up to the historical moment or the challenges that this country has ”, denounced Arnaldo Otegi at a rally.

In other words, the parameters in which the campaign is running are serving EH Bildu to keep its electorate mobilized and exhibit a moderate profile, of a party that intends to debate issues that concern the public. On social networks, meanwhile, another game is being played in which fair play is completely diluted and supporters of both formations cross harsh reproaches.

The results on Sunday will dictate a judgment on how the strategies that have been implemented on both sides during the campaign have worked. In any case, a few months before the General elections and a year before the Basque spring elections of 2024, it seems that the terms of the PNV-EH Bildu confrontation have come to stay.