The centre-right party in Spain’s Basque Country has announced a deal with the Socialists to end their nationalist rivals’ 30-year grip on power in the region.
After lengthy negotiations following inconclusive regional elections on March the 1st, the Popular Party has agreed to back Basque Socialist leader Patxi Lopez as head of the new government. It’s expected Lopez will be sworn in by late April. “We are happy with this deal which gives the backing of the Popular Party to the investiture of Patxi Lopez,” said a Popular Party spokesman. Together, the Socialist Party and the PP had a slim majority of 38 seats in the regional assembly, compared to 30 gained by the incumbent Basque Nationalist Party. Both parties opposed plans by the outgoing regional leader Juan Jose Ibarretxe for referenda on self-determination. Analysts attributed the rise in support for the Basque Socialists in part on tentative peace talks with ETA, launched by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in 2006. The talks collapsed after an upsurge in violence and Madrid continues to adopt a tough stance against the group.