Zapatero may form new government with Basque support

26th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Zapatero, who won the elections two weeks ago without getting an absolute majority, may form his second consecutive government with the backing of Basque regionalists, media reported Wednesday.

26 March 2008

MADRID - Spain's Socialist Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who won the elections two weeks ago without getting an absolute majority, may form his second consecutive government with the backing of Basque regionalists, media reported Wednesday.

Socialist representative Jose Blanco was scheduled to continue talks with small regionalist and far-left parties Wednesday in an attempt to seek support for Zapatero's investiture as prime minister in early April, as well as stability for the new government.

The Socialists took 169 seats in the 350-member parliament, against 153 seats for the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP), in the 9 March elections.

Zapatero was expected to take office with the backing of the six members of parliament representing the Basque region's governing Basque Nationalist Party (PNV).

The missing vote to achieve a sufficient majority might come from the Galician regionalist party BNG, according to the daily El Pais.

Zapatero had earlier governed with the support of smaller parties including the far-left Izquierda Unida and the Catalan separatist ERC.

The PNV, which is currently seeking autonomy bordering on independence for the Basque region, was expected to extract a heavy price for its support.

Basque Prime Minister Juan Jose Ibarretxe is planning a regional referendum on the Basques' right to decide their own future, a plan which the Socialists were hoping to bury by granting the region a wider measure of self-government.

The Basques already have the largest autonomy among Spain's 17 regions, including their own police force and the right to raise taxes.

Ibarretxe believes that the referendum would help to solve Spain's conflict of four decades with the militant separatist group ETA, which has killed more than 800 people.

The most recent victim, a former Socialist councillor, was shot dead two days before the elections.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

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