Basque Country's President Inigo Urkullu (L) and Basque Nacionalist Party (PNV) President Andoni Ortuzar (R) EPA-EFE/LUIS TEJIDO


Spain: Basques demand direct participation from Sánchez in premiership negotiations


The leader of the Spanish Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) Andoni Ortuzar has demanded the direct involvement of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in negotiations with the regional-nationalist and separatist parties in the country.

Sánchez must put forward a “programmatic offer” to earn the support of the Basques and Catalans if he wants to lead a government.

Ortuzar called on the acting Socialist Prime Minister to take into account the “sovereign” aspirations of both the Basque Country and Catalonia.

Echoing the Catalans, Ortuzar added that the PNV’s support would not come for free.

Regarding Sánchez, he said “it will have to be him, solemnly and officially” who lays out a programme that meets the two region’s demands.

Earlier on July 27, Ortuzar insisted the PNV is curbing the influence of the right-wing on the Spanish political landscape.

He claimed his party would be responsible for the Partido Popular’s (PP) failure to build a majority.

“We did not want to leave any room for misinterpretations,” he told a local Basque radio station, adding: “We ruined Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s investiture.”

The reasoning behind Ortuzar’s refusal to support Feijóo is the PP’s purported proximity to the Conservative party Vox. He has claimed the Basque nationalism the PP defends is “incompatible” with the ideas of Vox.

The PNV saw its parliamentary representation slip by 0.46 per cent in the general election, losing more than 100,000 votes. Nevertheless, the weight of its five remaining MPs may tip the scales in government.

Ortuzar said his “goal was to have enough representation in Congress to be influential in Madrid”.

“We got that”, he added.

The PNV was topped by EH Bildu, a party which allegedly had links with the now-extinct terrorist organisation Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). With six MPs, EH Bildu is also hoping to win some concessions via negotiation with the Socialist Party.

Together, the two parties of the Basque-nationalist bloc make up 11 MPs or 3.14 per cent of Congress. The Catalan separatist blocs have 14 MPs, or 4 per cent.

Sánchez has not responded to Ortuzar’s statements. Spokesmen for his government have said they will be “discrete” about any negotiation process.

Sánchez assured the public he “will find the formula to ensure the governability of Spain”.

“I think we are going to get it”, he added. Some members of the opposition fear that means he might be ready to give in to the Basques’ and Catalans’ demands.

Ortuzar warned on July 27 that Sánchez was “buying time” in the hope that votes from Spaniards abroad will tilt things in the Socialists’ favour when they are accounted for.

Those votes will be counted on July 28.