By Linda Hall • 02 September 2023 • 13:01
IÑIGO URKULLU: President of the Basque Region
Photo credit: Irekia-Gobierno Abierto Flickr
THE Partido Popular’s Alberto Nuñez Feijoo is currently drumming up support for his investiture at the end of September.
Feijoo and his PSOE rival, Pedro Sanchez, met for an hour on August 30, in the course of which he asked the incumbent president to allow the most-voted party to govern, “as has been the custom for the last 45 years.”
Feijoo offered a pact whereby the PP would govern for two years instead of four in a deal implementing “several” government pacts while limiting and defusing the influence of the pro-independence parties.
Once the two years were up, there would be another general election Feijoo said.
Unsurprisingly, Sanchez turned down the offer while he went about drumming up support for his own investiture in late October.
As Feijoo continued his quest, he held a 30-minute telephone conversation with Iñigo Urkullu, lehendakari – regional president – of the Basque Region.
Urkullu, Feijoo admitted, pointed out that he needed to talk the Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV), headed by Andoni Ortuzar and the party’s MPs in the national parliament. The previous day, following the regional government’s first “cabinet meeting” Urkullu declared “it’s not for me to decide how the PNV votes” while talking to the media.
If Feijoo were invested president then they would discuss questions affecting the Basque Region, he said.
Feijoo later thanked Urkullu via social media while sources close to the Lehendakari said their conversation had been “frank and useful”, with both politicians analysing “the present and the future.”
It is unlikely that Urkullu mentioned his conviction that it was time to consider “an interpretation” of Spain’s 1978 Constitution without changing it with a view of progressing towards “a plurinational Spain.”
Writing in El Pais on August 31, Urkullu maintained that the July 23 general election confirmed the “diversity and plurality” of the State.
“Now, as the legislature begins, it’s fitting to ask two basic questions that are still valid today. Why must the State have only one nation? And can’t the Spanish state be plurinational, as it was in practice until the 18th century?” Urkullu asked.
Urkullu also suggested a State Pact between Spain’s “historic nationalities” – the Basque Region, Cataluña and Galicia – to change the country’s territorial model.
It was the inclusion of the word “nation” in the preface to Cataluña’s 2006 Statute of Autonomy which scuppered the Estatut. According to some political commentators, had it been allowed to remain, the “Proces” towards independence would have lost much of its subsequent virulence.
As a result, plurality and nation, let alone changing territorial models, are concepts that the PP and Feijoo are not happy to pronounce or hear. If the presidential candidate’s phone call to Urkulla was, as the Lehendakari said, “frank and useful” their conversation clearly avoided contentious topics.
Referring to Urkullu’s proposals, the PP’s spokesman Borja Samper told a SER radio interviewer that before reinterpreting the Constitution, it needed to be recovered: “We have to recover the constitutional principles.”
Felix Bolaños, President’s Office minister was cautious, describing Urkullu’s “historic nations” plan as “legitimate”, before adding: “It is not our proposal but everything that contributes to a debate and makes it constructive is always positive.”
Nationalist votes will make or break both Feijoo and Sanchez’s ambitions to form a government and because they know this, Urkullu has already shared a glimpse of future wish lists.
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Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share?
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