It wasn’t long ago, in fact not even a month ago, that Spanish courts had ruled that a new party in the Basque Country couldn’t stand for elections held just yesterday. Bildu (Gather in English), a coalition of nationalist and left-of-center groups, was formed when Sortu (Create in English), another attempt to form a new nationalist party, was banned. Bildu itself had been banned by Spanish courts all the way to the Spanish Supreme Court. However, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that the party was legal and allowed it to stand for elections (I am not knowledgeable enough about the Spanish judicial system to know how these two courts are related).
The key, in my understanding, is that Bildu rejected violence. However, Sortu had done the same, but was still ruled to be an incarnation of Batasuna, widely viewed as ETA’s political arm. I am not entirely clear on what the difference between Bildu and Sortu is (except maybe the Constitutional Court never ruled on Sortu?).
In any case, today saw the first elections in which leftist nationalists were represented by a political party since the early 2000s when Batasuna had last been allowed to run. And, their success has been nothing short of amazing (see this EiTB article). Of all of the political parties represented, they received the second most votes (second only to PNV; 25 vs 29.9%) and the most seats in government (907 vs PNV’s 822) (I assume the disparity between number of votes and number of seats depends on where the votes were cast). Even in Nafarroa, which has recently been pushing to reduce Basque influence within the province, saw Bildu get about 11% of the vote.
After the PNV lost power in the Basque Autonomous Community to Patxi Lopez and the PSE-EE, it will be interesting to see how this new swing to the left and to another decidedly pro-nationalist party will affect things in the Basque Country. It is also amazing that a party that, until very recently, was banned is the choice of so many people. It makes you think that a large number of voters didn’t have a voice they felt represented them.
I’d be very interested in getting some reaction from people in the Basque Country about their view of the meaning of these election results as well as more insight into the history of these parties.