EH Bildu will not present an amendment to the entire Basque budget for 2022 as a sign of its “sincere will” to dialogue with the parties that make up the Basque Government (PNV and PSE-EE). The spokeswoman for the independence formation in the Basque Parliament, Maddalen Iriarte, announced this Friday that she will continue negotiating with the Executive to try to reach an agreement on the accounts for next year. It is the second time that EH Bildu does not request the return of the accounts. In 2019 he did not present an amendment to the entirety, but in the subsequent negotiations no agreement was reached to support the accounts for that year.
EH Bildu has already given its approval to the 2022 State Budgets after reaching several agreements with the Government of Sánchez. He has also favored with his abstention the approval of the accounts of Navarra, where the Socialists rule. In the Basque Country, on the other hand, there had not been a rapprochement like the one that occurs now since Urkullu assumed power three legislatures ago. The historic dispute between the PNV and the left nationalist due to the political hegemony in this autonomous community, it had prevented any understanding between the two main political forces. With its decision not to present an amendment to the entirety, EH Bildu opens a window to the agreement that is unprecedented in recent Basque history. Precisely, the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, has thanked and valued the “willingness to dialogue” of the independentists: “It is a great opportunity”, he has proclaimed in the Basque Chamber.
Iriarte has indicated that the budget project of the Basque Government “is not the one that this country needs” in the current pandemic situation, but has added that his group will continue to make a “sincere effort” to try to “improve” the accounts. “We do what we say and we say what we do,” said the EH Bildu spokesperson. Finally, he will not present an amendment to the whole, he said, as a “sign of our sincere desire for dialogue.”
EH Bildu is the only opposition formation with which the Basque Government can reach a budget pact. Both Elkarrekin Podemos and the PP-Ciudadanos have already announced that they will reject the accounts and request their return after the failure of the negotiations they have held with the Executive. Vox is the only parliamentary group with which no contacts have been maintained. Urkullu’s cabinet decided from the outset to remove this far-right party from the talks.
Urkullu has welcomed “the useful policy of the agreement” after learning about EH Bildu’s decision and has trusted that the dialogue on the budgets will allow consensus to be reached on other issues. The Basque president recalled that the Basque budgets for 2022 have “a strategic importance for economic reactivation and social cohesion.” The Basque Government plans to allocate a total of 1,605 million euros to investments next year (50% more than in 2021) in a budget that exceeds 13,000 million euros for the first time in history, 5.3% more than in the current year. The accounts will be voted on in Parliament, predictably on December 23rd. Its approval, with or without partial agreements with EH Bildu, is fully guaranteed, since the PNV and the PSE-EE (Basque Executive partners) have an absolute majority in Parliament.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.