The Spanish Basque separatist party EH Bildu is set to take over the city of Pamplona with the help of the Socialist party in Navarre.
The Socialists agreed to support a vote of no confidence to oust the current mayor Cristina Ibarrola Guillén of the centre-right Unión del Pueblo Navarro (UPN) party.
In response, on December 17, UPN organised a huge protest outside Pamplona City Hall against Bildu and the Socialists, led by Spain’s re-elected Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
“Ibarrola, you are not alone,” the people chanted.
Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the main opposition leader and President of the centre-right Partido Popular (PP) showed up at the demonstration.
The PP is the coalition partner of the Pamplona City Council and a parliamentary ally at the national Congress in Madrid.
Ibarrola addressed Sánchez directly and called him “the worst thing that happened to this country. The worst”.
“We will not forgive, and we will not forget that you have sold Pamplona,” she added.
The Pamplona Mayor said she was convinced “that we will come back”.
“We have won in the streets, the city is with us.”
After the vote of no confidence, Joseba Asirun – the leader of Bildu in the Pamplona City Council – is set to replace Ibarrola as mayor.
The vote was one of the concessions the Socialist Party made to Bildu in exchange for their support for Sánchez’s bid for Prime Minister, observers say.
Mayor Ibarrola agrees with this assessment. “This is part of the price to pay for Sánchez to be Prime Minister.”
The vote is set to take place on December 28, 42 days after Sánchez’s re-election.
Several Socialist Party decision-makers, including Sánchez, had publicly said they would not make any deals with Bildu.
In 2019, Sánchez stated: “The Socialist Party of Navarre and the national Socialist Party have the same position: we do not make any agreements with Bildu”.
The latest fallout is not the first time Sánchez has been on the receiving end of Pamplona’s anger.
During the recent general election campaign, thousands of spectators at the Pamplona bullring chanted against Sánchez, linking him to a convicted member of the now-extinct Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) terrorist organisation.
Pamplona is the capital and largest city of the Navarre region. It is home to Spain’s leading private university and a strategic medical hub.
The city is also part of what the Basque separatists call “Euskal Herria,” a non-official cultural region that ETA sought to “liberate”.