Tuesday, March 20, 2007

So What Is It About Navarra?

Given all the fuss that the Partido Popular (PP) has made about the national government supposedly agreeing with ETA to hand over Navarra to the Basque country, it might seem a little odd to find that the PP president of the regional government has raised the possibility of a coalition government with the PSOE. Why would he be proposing to deal with those who want to give the region away? What lies behind the sudden interest in Navarra’s status within Spain is really a simple question of electoral arithmetic. The Navarran government is currently run by a majority PP administration (although they call themselves the UPN in Navarra). However, if voters in the May elections vote more or less as they did at the last general election then it is goodbye to an absolute majority for the PP in the region. They might still be the biggest party, but due to the uncanny inability of the PP to create alliances with other parties it would be quite possible for them to lose power after the elections. The different Basque nationalist parties are currently uniting under the same banner in Navarra and it has brought them some success in areas where nationalist sentiment is strong.

Now I am sure that the different parties have their own internal polling data, and if the PP is shipping in demonstrators from as far away as Madrid to fill the streets of Pamplona then it is because they are scared of losing their hold on the region. So they seem to have decided that the best defence is to try and scare the voters in turn by raising the possibility of a government where the PSOE would be held “hostage” by nationalist parties who want to force Navarra to become part of the Basque country. At the same time they demand that the PSOE rejects alliances with any other party and use the subsequent (and understandable) refusal as further ammunition to try and scare the voters. If things don't go their way in the elections, expect any coalition government in Navarra to become the next "tripartit", an equivalent to the Catalan government that all upstanding right wing parents have been using to frighten their young children into obedience for the last few years.

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