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Sortu leaders look for political partnerships as electoral Plan B

If Basque left party is not deemed legal by courts, candidates to run on slates of sympathetic groups

The leaders of the Basque radical abertzale left vow they will field candidates in the local election elections in May, even if their newly formed party Sortu is declared illegal by the courts.

Sortu's principal founders, Iñigo Iruin and Rufi Etxeberria, have been making contacts with legal leftist parties, such as EA and Alternatiba, in an effort to include some of its intended candidates on their slates with a common platform in the May 22 Basque Country race, sources close to the talks say.

The Interior Ministry on Wednesday gave the Attorney General's Office a Civil Guard report on Sortu that concludes the newly formed party is an offshoot of the outlawed Batasuna and would be "at the service of ETA" if given legal status. Prosecutors are expected to challenge Sortu's claim to abide by the Political Parties Law before the Supreme Court in the coming days.

"We want to participate politically and we're going to do it," some Sortu supporters have said during their meetings with the other leftist parties.

For its part, opposition Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy, who has been against Sortu from day one, called the Civil Guard's report "good news." "The important thing is to keep the terrorists off the ballot," he said.