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Sortu working against clock to be able to stand in elections

Basque abertzale group proposes coalition to sidestep court ruling

The Basque separatist party Sortu are pushing forward on multiple fronts in an attempt to win political representation at upcoming May elections.

The Supreme Court's decision on Thursday to block Sortu for purported links to terrorist group ETA has set the radicals' Plan B in motion. It hinges around the creation of a new platform called Bildu ("bring together" in the Basque language). Through this coalition with sympathetic parties EA and Alternativa, Sortu will be able to field independent candidates in local elections on May 22, provided the coalition is registered before the April 8 deadline.

Sortu has decided to hedge its bets, because the results of any appeal against the Supreme Court's ban would not be known before April 18.

Sortu's defense lawyers are waiting to see the case documents that detail the arguments of individual magistrates from the Supreme Court, which voted 9 to 7 to ban the group. The lawyers will then decide whether to lodge an appeal to legalize Sortu, which has taken the historic step of condemning ETA's violence in its statutes.

Meanwhile, the Basque radical left's grassroots supporters have mobilized for a demonstration calling for Sortu's legalization on April 2 in San Sebastián.