Pamplona's Mayor Joseba Asiron (centre-right) of the Basque nationalist EH Bildu party. EPA/Villar Lopez


Spain: Socialists refuse to join new Pamplona Government after helping oust mayor


The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) has refused to join the newly installed regional Government in Pamplona, the capital of the Navarre region in the North of the country.

The Government will be led by Joseba Asiron, the leader of the Basque separatist EH Bildu party in the Pamplona Parliament.

The PSOE’s support was instrumental in ousting Unión del Pueblo Navarro (UPN) party member Cristina Ibarrola who, until December 28, served as mayor of the city.

Ibarrola said she and her team “will continue to work hard so that a great majority of us will once again believe in another way of doing politics, not the vile and treacherous one you are carrying out today”.

While she will no longer be mayor, Ibarrola will not resign as a city councilwoman and will remain leader of the opposition.

“I will work to put a stop to the sectarism of Bildu,” she added.

The PSOE did not say why it did not ask Bildu to join the new Government.

According to Ibarrola and others, Pamplona was Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s bargaining chip to secure Bildu’s vote in Parliament for his November premiership bid.

“I would like for Pamplona to be in the national spotlight for something positive, but not for a treason,” she said on December 27.

The Socialists “gave” Pamplona to Bildu “for six votes to keep Pedro Sánchez in his chair”, she claimed.

Ibarrola added: “This was written since May or June,” although the Socialist Party of Navarre and Bildu announced their intention to oust Ibarrola in mid-December.

She said Bildu “still has terrorists on their lists, and still has a councilman who was unable to condemn the murder of a spokesman of UPN”.

Ibarrola added she felt Bildu was focused on “building the entity of Euskal Herria with Navarre”.

Euskal Herria is a non-official cultural region that the now-extinct terrorist organisation Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) sought to “liberate”.

The national leader of the Partido Popular (PP) Alberto Núñez Feijóo echoed Ibarrola’s comments.

“Sánchez had chosen to end the year toasting with Bildu,” he said.

Feijóo added that the PSOE support for Bildu in Pamplona “was the last line that not even the staunchest opponents of Sánchez would have dared imagine could happen”.

There has been no official reaction from the Socialist Party or from Sánchez, who is currently on an official trip to Iraq.

Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz of the Sumar party supported the motion of no-confidence in Pamplona, saying the Bildu-PSOE move was “absolutely democratic”.