Galician victory for PP gives Rajoy a much-needed shot in the arm
Majority of Basques choose nationalist parties with EH Bildu the second-largest force with 25 percent of the vote
Galicia premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo of Popular Party (PP) won re-election Sunday night on a day of regional elections which also saw the Basque Country vote massively in favor of nationalist groupings.
Despite the troubles of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s national PP government, the conservative party saw its support hold steady in Galicia as the Feijóo-headed list of candidates garnered 45.7 percent of the vote for a comfortable majority of 41 seats in the 75-member regional parliament. In the previous elections in 2009, the PP had won fewer seats (38) although its share of the vote had been higher, reaching 46.6 percent.
The Galician Socialists were well behind, gaining just 18 places in the Santiago de Compostela assembly with 20.5 percent of the vote, seven seats and over 10 percentage points down on its 2009 results.
But the biggest surprise of the night in Galicia was the performance of the AGE nationalist-leftist coalition, formed by former Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) leader Xosé Manuel Beiras a little over one month ago. AGE won nine seats with 14 percent of the vote, leaving BNG as the smallest group in parliament with seven representatives.
In his victory speech at the PP’s Galician headquarters, Feijóo said that “if citizens hadn’t thought that, in spite of the sacrifices, the central government was not governing responsibly, this victory would have been impossible.”
PP Secretary General María Dolores de Cospedal was more forthright, saying the party’s “historic triumph” in Galicia was a “vote of confidence for the PP’s policies in all of Spain.”
Turnout in Galicia was 63.8 percent, slightly down on the 2009 figure of 64.6 percent. After a slow start at polling stations in the Basque Country, the final percentage of citizens who had cast their ballots reached 65.8, slightly up on the figure recorded three years ago.
The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) remained the best-supported force in the region, winning 27 seats with 34.6 percent of the vote, a result that was slightly worse than in 2009, when the center-right nationalist formation took 30 seats with popular support of 38.5 percent.
This time, however, the PNV faced competition in terms of the nationalist vote from the newly legalized EH Bildu coalition, an amalgam of legal leftist separatist parties and the former Batasuna, ETA’s outlawed political wing. In the end, EH Bildu scooped 25 percent of the vote, enough to earn it 21 seats and the position of second-largest party in the Basque parliament. The PSE-EE Socialist party in the region, led by outgoing regional premier Patxi López, saw its support crumble from 30.7 percent to just 19.1, meaning the now third-largest force will have 16 seats instead of 25. The Basque PP picked up 10 seats, down from 13, with 11.7 percent of the vote.
The partnership government in the Basque Country between the Socialists and the PP, formed in 2009, fell apart early this year when López’s PSE administration was unable to muster support from his conservative partners to pass the 2012 budget.