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PP accuses Socialists of giving ETA "wings"

De Cospedal says government is "campaigning" for abertzale

The end of ETA, which is drawing ever closer according to experts after a series of successful police operations against the organization and the apparent willingness of the radical abertzale left to follow the political path, has opened a rift between the Socialist government and the Popular Party (PP).

Not since Mariano Rajoy accused José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of betraying the victims of ETA in 2005 has the main opposition party launched an attack as extreme as that of María Dolores de Cospedal, the PP's number two, and party spokesman Esteban González Pons on Monday.

Both accused the government and the Socialist Party (PSOE) of campaigning on behalf of what they termed the "milieu of the terrorist group." They said that the Basque government's proposal to move ETA inmates closer to the region if and when the organization disbands had been made with the blessing of Zapatero and Socialist general election candidate Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. "This implies campaining for [abertzale bloc] Bildu," Pons and De Cospedal said. "It is not advisable to talk of whether it is better for [Bildu] to run or not to run, as the PSOE is doing, and by doing so giving it wings," De Cospedal added.

"We do not edit ETA communiqués, nor those of the abertzale," PSOE spokesman José Blanco told EL PAÍS. "The PP are concerned with the elections and we are concerned with the end of terrorism. The PP is concerned with our candidate [and ex-interior minister], Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, who has left ETA in such a deathly state, while we are interested in the weakness of ETA."