The PNB seeks the clash with Bildu because of the ambiguity about the violence of the past

The Basque electoral campaign faces the last hours with a close fight between the PNB and EH Bildu, and still focused on the controversy raised after the statements of Pello Otxandiano, candidate of the Abertzale coalition, in relation to ETA, who avoided defining- as a "terrorist group".

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 April 2024 Thursday 11:18
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The PNB seeks the clash with Bildu because of the ambiguity about the violence of the past

The Basque electoral campaign faces the last hours with a close fight between the PNB and EH Bildu, and still focused on the controversy raised after the statements of Pello Otxandiano, candidate of the Abertzale coalition, in relation to ETA, who avoided defining- as a "terrorist group". If the candidate of the PSE, Eneko Andueza, had initially been the one who had capitalized on the demand to the pro-independence formation for a critical review of terrorism, in this final stretch of the campaign it is the PNB who is squeezing the Abertzale coalition more vehemently , in a last attempt to mobilize the electorate.

Basque nationalists believe that in recent days a context has been created that can activate the mobilization of their voters on Sunday. First of all, because of the effect that the surveys published until Monday, which placed the Abertzale coalition in the lead, could have, something that could favor the activation of an anti-Bildu vote.

Secondly, because they understand that Imanol Pradales, their candidate, emerged strengthened from the ETB debate, followed by one in four Basques at some point, and they believe that his popularity is increasing. Finally, because they believe that Otxandiano's statements on the Ser channel have portrayed him in the ethical sphere and can slow down some transfers of votes towards the Abertzale coalition, as well as encourage some of the undecided.

The PNB understands that the strategy of seeking a mobilization focused on curbing Bildu can work and they will not move from here until Sunday, considering that the direction the campaign took during the first ten days, focused on issues of a social nature , did not favor them. For this reason, Pradales rescued yesterday the issue of the critical review of the past by EH Bildu, an issue that had lost weight after Tuesday's debate at ETB, in which he did not even appear.

The jeltzale candidate sought the clash with Bildu in each of the appointments that covered his intense agenda: "Euskadi needs a lehendakari who condemns ETA and who says emphatically that killing was wrong and that there should not have been any type of violence Let him say things by his name".

At the time, the Abertzale coalition had already chosen to publicly correct Otxandiano's controversial statements in La Ser, where on Monday he repeatedly avoided using the term "terrorist group" to refer to ETA. The head of the Abertzale list said yesterday that he "regrets" the answer he gave and asked for "forgiveness" from the victims of terrorism if with these words he hurt "their sensibilities".

Otxandiano measured each word, did not move beyond the terms included in the statement of October 18, 2021 and avoided the term for which he was questioned (the references to ETA's "terrorism"), but he managed to conclude the matter as far as his training was concerned, perhaps until Sunday. "One of the political sectors that today belongs to Bildu was an agent of pain in the past, but then it was part of the solution and today Bildu is ready to be an agent of reconciliation. It is proof that on my lists there are people then threatened by ETA", he expressed.

In the Abertzale coalition they continue to be installed in extreme caution. The campaign was going better even than they expected until Monday and they want to avoid surprises. They consider that the controversy over Otxandiano's statements has been "orchestrated" and their goal is to return the campaign to the agenda that had occupied it during the first ten days. In any case, they do not rule out that this controversy could come back against Jeltzales and socialists, if society appreciates that it has prioritized electoral use.

PNB itself is aware that Bildu may end up appearing as a victim. For this reason, in the decision to seek a clash with the Abertzale formation, they will also appeal to ideological antagonism. Pradales spoke yesterday of "two very different models": "It is necessary to choose between supporting the transformation and progress of the economy, society or culture from public-private, public-social and community cooperation, or the dominance and expansion of what it is public in all social orders".