The PP starts the new political course in Euskadi confident that the favorable polls for Pablo Casado will also bring a tailwind in Basque territory after an unfortunate 2020 with a fall to historical lows in the seats (only six and two granted to Citizens by the coalition agreements). This alleged new centrality, already forgotten at the stage of Alfonso Alonso and his controversial departure, has led the president of the ‘popular’ Basques, Carlos Iturgaiz, to proclaim that his formation “is for a reform of the Statute”, an announcement of political significance although leaving of course they will not accept a “new status” as a preliminary step to self-determination and independence.
Iturgaiz interprets that the nationalist left gives wings to violence by remaining in a “rejection” and not talking about “condemnation”
To questions from journalists, Iturgaiz has pointed out that the current text “is already a few years old” – in fact it is the only one of the first generation that has never been reformed – and that “it has to be updated.” “Reforms are needed. There are European issues,” explained the president of the PP and also leader of the PP + Cs coalition, which for years was a member of the European Parliament. The text was approved years before Spain entered the European Union – without the support of the Popular Alliance – and there are many policies that have been rearranged. The president of the PP has emphasized that not only in this matter but in others such as the fight against the pandemic, he will act with “positive proposals”, with a profile of “constructive opposition.”
The Statute reform process was promoted by Iñigo Urkullu when he won the 2012 elections. However, he consumed the 2012-2016 legislature without progress. In 2016-2020 there was a first phase at idle but, after the ‘procés’, the work accelerated. In fact, the PNV and EH Bildu agreed on bases with a marked sovereign accent on the same day in May 2018 in which the Government of Mariano Rajoy agreed with the nationalists their latest budgets. However, at a later stage, the PNV modulated its proposal and approached the PSE-EE and Elkarrekin Podemos. The PP was always against it, although the expert who represented it in the self-government presentation, the veteran Navarrese leader Jaime Ignacio del Burgo, did open up a reform but to the downside, to give more power to the foral territories against the common autonomous institutions. What Iturgaiz has made clear is that they will not endorse plans to “break with Spain.” “We do not want to liquidate or destroy. We are very comfortable with self-government,” emphasized the conservative leader, who has ensured that the states of the United States and the German ‘länder’ are envious of the level of competence of the Basque Country.
This development of Basque self-government has a milestone soon. On October 1, the transfer of Prisons to Euskadi will be effective, the second community to receive it after Catalonia. Iturgaiz has said that the PP also supports this transfer, included in the Statute since 1979. “We have never said that there is no transfer of Prisons. Of course it is within the Statute. What we do not want is for it to be used so that the prisons become luxury ‘resorts’ for ETA prisoners, as Lledoners has been in Catalunya “, Iturgaiz explained.
Everything indicates that, after the stoppage due to the pandemic, the Basque Parliament will soon resume its work to reform the Statute for the third consecutive term. The lehendakari seemed to give them priority in the last plenary session before the holidays. In fact, the matter has been a summer snake. But, in his first speech, Urkullu has not seemed to give it special relevance. He has assured that it is up to the Chamber to position itself and, on the contrary, has stressed that the Government’s action goes through the full development of the current Statute. The transfer of prisons will be closed and it is hoped that nine more will be signed by the end of the year, according to their forecasts. The great battle lies in the new Minimum Vital Income, which has been delayed since Pedro Sánchez agreed to assign it in one of the agreements with the PNV to save one of the extensions of the first state of alarm. EH Bildu, on the contrary, considers this debate strategic and regularly reminds the nationalists who broke the bases of 2018.