Basque nationalists, socialists in government deadlock

6th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Both parties fail to agree over the make-up of a new government Thursday.

MADRID – The incumbent Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the Socialists, the parties with the greatest number of votes in weekend general elections in the troubled northeastern region of Spain, failed Thursday to agree over the make-up of a new government.

"We proposed a stability agreement to the Socialists but their response was that the results guaranteed a socialist head of government," PNV leader Inigo Urkullu told reporters following a 45-minute meeting in Bilbao with leaders of the Basque Socialist Party.

While the PNV won the most seats in the 75-seat Basque assembly in Sunday's polls, the Socialists and two other non-nationalist parties won a combined majority for the first time since the chamber was created in 1980.

Patxi Lopez, the leader of the Basque Socialist Party which came in second in the election, has said he would seek support in the assembly to be elected president of the Basque government. The conservative Popular Party (PP) has already indicated that it is willing to back him for the post.

But Urkullu said Wednesday that efforts by the Socialists to form a government that excludes the PNV, which has run the separatist-minded region since 1980, amounted to an "institutional coup”.

The PNV boosted the number of seats it has in the assembly by one to 30 seats but failed to secure an absolute majority due to a disappointing show by its smaller nationalist coalition partners.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist Party won 24 seats, up from 18, in the polls and could see the number of seats rise to 25 once ballots from abroad are counted.

The PP captured 13 seats and the smaller centrist UPD party won one seat.

The wealthy region bordering France has been wracked by decades of separatist violence with the armed separatist group ETA blamed for 825 deaths in its 40-year campaign for an independent Basque homeland.

AFP / Expatica

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