Sunday, May 31, 2015

Class war in the Basque Country after elections

For those readers who understand Spanish or wish to use an online translator, they may find interesting my guest article at Borroka Garaia Da!:

La Guerra de Clases en Euskal Herria tras el 24M: izquierda real, derecha burguesa y social-democracia residual (Class War in the Basque Country after May 24: real left, bourgeois right and residual social-democracy).

I don't feel like translating everything but I guess I can make a synthesis here. First of all electoral results by region or province (regional parliament vote):
  • Biscay:
    • Left: 36% (EHB: 19%, Podemos: 15%, Irabazi: 3%)
    • Center: 15% (all PSOE)
    • Right: 48% (PNV: 38%, PP: 8%, C’s: 2%)
  • Gipuzkoa: 
    • Left: 43% (EHB: 29%, Podemos: 12%, Irabazi: 2%)
    • Center: 17% (all PSOE)
    • Right: 39% (PNV: 32%, PP: 5%, C’s: 1%)
  • Navarre: 
    • Left: 32% (EHB: 14%, Podemos: 14%, IE: 4%)
    • Center: 29% (GB: 16%, PSOE: 13%)
    • Right: 34% (UPN: 27%, PP: 4%, C’s: 3%)
  • Araba:
    • Left: 39% (EHB: 20%, Podemos: 15%, Irabazi: 4%)
    • Center: 11% (all PSOE)
    • Right: 47% (PP: 22%, PNV:22%, C’s: 3%)
Where: EHB = Basque Nationalist Left, Podemos = new all-Spain radical popular unity party, Irabazi/IE = old all-Spain left (United Left in essence), PSOE = social-liberals similar to the US Democrats, PP = right-wing extremists similar to the US Tea Party, C's = new populist and xenophobic clone of the former, UPN = Navarrese regional version of the PP, PNV = Basque "Nationalist" Party (110 years of experience at deceit card games must be worth something), GB = Geroa Bai! = center pro-Basque party in Navarre.

Main theses:

1. The left, the real left (to the exclusion of social-liberals), fails in Gipuzkoa, where it gets more support, but wins in Navarre, where it gets much less, because of the difference in the role of center parties. The PSOE will again pact with PNV as has been doing for decades, while Geroa Bai! will instead pact with the Left because they want anything but to repeat these last decades. 

2. The results of the Left in Biscay, a largely urban and industrial region, are mediocre at best and bad at worst compared with the rest. This surely owes to the art of the PNV at presenting themselves as "centrist" and inclusive and particularly to a horrible media situation in which the far-right newspaper El Correo, of fascist foundation, is still perceived as the "normal" and the Basque TV ETB is not doing an adequate job at representing actual opinions but rather works mostly as PNV propaganda machine. Not just that the leftist-nationalist newspaper Gara is miles away from being a reference for debate and information, as used to be its precursor Egin in the 1990s before being closed by political repression. New volunteer-made but quality media are necessary, something that is indeed possible in the Internet era. 

3. All the growth of the Left, which is significant, is owed to Podemos. Clearly this new party, with its new more participative, grassroots, and less power-mongering style, is appealing to many voters, who may have largely abstained otherwise. The fact that the Basque Nationalist Left has not grown indicates some important failures, which in my opinion are: low participation or inclusiveness (as their speaker Arraiz admitted, they may need to listen more and be less arrogant), social-democratic reformist tendencies which may be coupled with some lesser greed of power (for me the most notorious case is the inclusion as number 2 in Araba of Lorena López de Lacalle, who demonstrated in the past to be extremely unscrupulous and a total turncoat, albeit a frustrated one). 

4. There is no doubt a wide sector of Basques that do not feel strongly about independence or may be even variedly reluctant to support it. The Basque Nationalist Left clearly fails right now to appeal to them with projects, programs and participation means they could feel compensatory for their lack of interest in "nationalism". Instead Podemos has served (for the time being at least) to attract them: they are there and want means to take part, hoping that Podemos is that mean. 

5. While Podemos in Navarre is clearly a force of change in the Western Basque Country nobody really knows what they are about. Their appeal is largely generated by the image of Podemos at state level and I think we are all looking interrogatively at them between skepticism and hope. Their vote is therefore largely a provisional, not consolidated support. It is very symptomatic and no doubt hopeful but it has yet to be seen what they actually do with it. They are still in quarantine.

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