The PNB endures the rise of Bildu and Imanol Pradales will be lehendakari

The PNB narrowly beat EH Bildu in the tightest Basque elections, winning in votes, although tied in seats, and Imanol Pradales will almost certainly be the next lehendakari, probably with the support of the PSE.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
21 April 2024 Sunday 11:18
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The PNB endures the rise of Bildu and Imanol Pradales will be lehendakari

The PNB narrowly beat EH Bildu in the tightest Basque elections, winning in votes, although tied in seats, and Imanol Pradales will almost certainly be the next lehendakari, probably with the support of the PSE. This is the title of the very equal election day in the Basque Country. Basque nationalists, however, have reason to be upset in view of the rise of EH Bildu, which achieved its best ever result, tied for seats – the gap until yesterday was 10 seats – and won in Gipuzkoa and Álava.

The Jeltzales, meanwhile, endured the downpour in Bizkaia. The territory where the Basque Nationalist Party was born 129 years ago remains its great stronghold and allows it to continue as the most voted party in the face of EH Bildu's push, although the 10-seat advantage it had over the coalition abertzale faded away due to the growth of the candidacy led by Pello Otxandiano.

At the end of this edition, the PNB and EH Bildu had tied for 27 seats (out of a total of 75), so that the Jeltzales lost four seats and the Abertzale coalition won six parliamentarians. The PSE, meanwhile, got 12 seats (up two), the PP got seven (in 2020 it got 6 in coalition with Ciutadans), Sumar got a representative and Vox kept its parliamentary seat.

In this way, the Basque nationalists achieved their great goals of the night. They prevailed in votes on EH Bildu, despite the tie in seats, they will be able to govern thanks to the PSE and, moreover, they will be able to do so with an absolute majority, since they exceed the 38 seats between the two formations (a total of 39). However, in Sabin Etxea they have also detected some worrying signs.

The sense of the Basque nationalists is no longer that of having EH Bildu on their heels, but practically within touching distance. The Abertzale coalition has reduced these ten seats of difference in less than four years, is ahead in the younger age groups and has a wider territorial implementation than that of the Jeltzales, as the map of the autonomous community of Euskadi showed yesterday, dyed turquoise green in two thirds of the territory.

Fortunately for their interests, the Basque nationalists will have a new legislature to try to rebuild and will be able to do so from the comfort of an absolute majority and without the pressure of the electoral calendar, beyond the European ones in June. It will be time to reflect on how to stop some trends that seem persistent.

Almost with complete certainty, Imanol Pradales will be able to swear the office of lehendakari under the Gernika tree before the summer. The horizon of Basque politics will be that of a coalition government with the Jeltzale candidate as lehendakari and councilors from both his own party and socialists. The absolute majority with the PSE was, together with the victory against EH Bildu, the other big goal of the PNB last night. And it has derivatives for the two major parties in Spanish politics.

The PSE managed to grow in seats, consolidate its role as arbiter of Basque politics and, since the PNB prevailed in votes, it avoided the difficulty of having to justify an eventual refusal to EH Bildu in case that had prevailed in votes and seats. The Socialists once again hold the key to governability and will use it to facilitate a government similar to the one that Iñigo Urkullu has presided over for the past four years, probably gaining weight in the distribution of ministries.

The PP, meanwhile, is on the verge of achieving its great goal: to regain relevance in Basque politics. They would have succeeded in the event that the PNB and the PSE had not gained an absolute majority, something that would have forced them to look towards the popular ones. The candidacy of Javier de Andrés managed to add representation and support, but they will have a secondary role in Basque politics.

In addition, the PP is again positioned as the fourth force in the Basque Parliament in view of the decline of the confederal left, an issue that deserves a separate chapter. What is known as the fifth area of ​​Basque politics, which won the 2015 general elections in the Basque Country in terms of votes and the 2016 in terms of votes and deputies, was left with a single parliamentarian. It was obtained by Sumar with its head of list for Álava, Jon Hernández, current general secretary of the Communist Party of Euskadi and deputy in the Elkarrekin Podem coalition during the last legislature.

Sumar's candidate for lehendakari, Alba García, was left out of the Basque Parliament, while Podemos' candidacy failed to gain representation. The purple formation has gone from having 11 deputies in the 2016-2020 legislature and six in the last term to being left out of the chamber. The decision to run separately has proven to be a political harakiri, as the polls progressed. Vox finally managed to keep its representative in the Basque Parliament, Amaia Martínez, as it narrowly surpassed the 3% barrier in Álava.

The Basque elections leave a more nationalist Basque Parliament (PNB and EH Bildu add 2 more seats) in which, however, the pro-independence agenda will have less relevance. The PSE will play a crucial role and Eneko Andueza will lead the way for the PNB regarding the territorial issue. Pedro Sánchez, moreover, will be able to breathe easy, since the reverberations of yesterday's elections in Madrid will be very limited. PNB can breathe and will have time to rebuild, although yesterday it was able to confirm that it already has EH Bildu face to face.