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State targets entire Bildu electoral slate in Supreme Court

Challenge to Basque platform backed by reports of candidates' ETA link

After cross-party negotiations to have the entire slate presented by the Basque abertzale leftist party Bildu vetted ahead of local elections in the northern region on May 22, the Solicitor General's Office on Tuesday elected to contest all 258 lists of candidates put forward by the platform.

The decision, backed by the Attorney General's Office, was based on police reports that conclude Bildu is a continuation of Batasuna, the outlawed political wing of ETA, and that several of its candidates remain sympathetic to the party banned in 2003. The solicitor general is expected to present the challenge to the Supreme Court today or on Thursday, the latest juncture permitted.

The legal challenge will consist of two parts, judicial sources said. The first will aim to strike down the entire slate presented by the Bildu coalition, which is formed of legitimate abertzale parties Eusko Alkartasuna and Alternatiba, and independent candidates. The latter, the government believes, comprises candidates with no arrest history or links to radical abertzale platforms, but who would be easily recognizable to Basque voters. The second challenge is aimed at some 30 separate slates presented by voters' groups.

Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba stated that "those who should not be present" at the May 22 elections would be prevented from running, adding "the government will use all the means at its disposal," to ensure Batasuna-linked candidates are removed from electoral lists.

Popular Party Justice spokesman Federico Trillo reiterated that the pact reached with the government will aim to contest the entire Bildu slate and not just those "contaminated" by Batasuna-linked names.