The PSOE has shown signs this past week of wanting to advance quickly in the process of normalization of relations with Bildu, which has accelerated enormously in the last two years. The need to add support to invest Pedro Sanchez and the demands of Pablo Iglesias made a structural ally a party with which Sánchez did not even want to sit down due to his pro-ETA ties.
These emergencies have gone hand in hand with a discursive change that he presents as positive for the Basque Country and Navarre, and for the whole of Spain, his association with them. The Socialists have celebrated the ‘step’ in the right direction which in their opinion are the words of
Arnaldo Otegi on the tenth anniversary of the end of ETA violence. One step where? Total normalization makes its way. But the process started with the vote of no confidence in 2018 and the needs of the PSOE in 2019. Not long ago everything was different.
May 2015. «With Bildu we are not going to agree»
It is the prelude to the municipal and regional elections of 2015. Sánchez has not yet completed one year at the helm of the PSOE. His arrival has not been able to stop Podemos’ push. Covenants and alliances they are unavoidable. During an interview on Navarra Televisión, the PSOE leader made a statement that still haunts him to this day: “We are not going to agree with Bildu. If you want, I’ll tell you five or twenty times during the interview. We are not going to agree with Bildu ».
February 2016. «No, I will not meet with Bildu»
The general elections of December 20, 2015 have passed. The PSOE has harvested with Pedro Sánchez as candidate its worst electoral result. But Mariano Rajoy has declined the King’s order to attempt an investiture. Sánchez assumes the challenge of adding a tripartite with Podemos and Ciudadanos. And in a press conference in Congress for the start of the negotiations, he made the following clear: “No, I am not going to meet with Bildu.”
On the other hand, with ERC and the old Convergència he was willing to meet. Although simply to tell them that “I do not share your project.” The darkest days of the Catalan independence process were coming. But there was already a plebiscite challenge on self-determination by the Generalitat of Catalonia. However Bildu was still perceived in another dimension. In 2016 Bildu was a coalition with which the PSOE couldn’t even sit at a table. In the failed investiture session in March, the party’s number two, Adriana Lastra, questioned that Bildu was “cheered” by Podemos.
September 2016. “With the only party that we will not enter into dialogue with is Bildu”
The electoral repetition of June 26, 2016 has already taken place. The PSOE has continued to back down. And so have Ciudadanos and Podemos, already in alliance with the United Left. The PP, on the other hand, has been reinforced. The PSOE is boiling. But not even this situation of internal despair, which leads Sánchez to think about the possibility of a third election, does not make the PSOE leader change his position regarding Bildu. After a meeting of its Executive on September 5, insist: “With the only party with which we are not going to enter into dialogue is Bildu.”
May-June 2018. Motion of censure for “democratic hygiene”
Pedro Sánchez presents a motion of censure against Mariano Rajoy. The PSOE takes it forward with four votes of margin with respect to the absolute majority. The socialists focus their efforts on Catalan independence and the PNV. Bildu, who has only two deputies, is in the background. He is contacted indirectly to find out his position. Support for “democratic hygiene” his spokesman would say. The need to address some parliamentary issues with that fragile majority is starting to open channels of communication. Still very fragile and without institutional recognition.
April-June 2019. Another round of negotiation without Bildu
Sánchez wins the April 28 elections. But it is far from the majority. You need to reissue your alliance with Podemos and the partners of the motion of censure. Bildu is still not essential and the Socialists open a negotiation round in which they persist in their decision not to include them. They will not meet with Vox either. «I think that simply [por] The fact that you are insistently asking me if I am not going to meet neither with Vox nor with Bildu, you know the answer perfectly, “said Lastra.
June 2019.Ferraz puts himself in profile in Navarra
After the generals there have been regional elections in May. UPN has won the elections with 20 seats. The Navarrese socialism of María Chivite is in second position and intends to build a majority with which it can have 23 seats and thus have more affirmative votes than UPN without including Bildu. But at least needing your abstention. The leader of the Navarrese socialists defends the strategy that facilitating the government to UPN would only serve to open the doors of a future nationalist government.
In fact, he argues that this is the reason why Geroa Bai managed to govern in the previous term, the agreement signed between UPN and PSN in 2011. Chivite explored this abstention, but in the middle of the process, Ferraz wanted to mark distance: “We are unmarked”, Ferraz sources said then. Finally that threat came to nothing. Chivite is the president of Navarra thanks to that abstention. The discomfort that Bildu caused again becoming apparent. The pretext began to be used that in the event of an abstention or non-negotiated support they could not oppose. But there would be no negotiation or pacts: “Nothing is agreed with Bildu,” said Sánchez.
November 2019. Electoral repetition and Navarrese budgets
This entire firewall structure around Bildu begins to be dismantled after the repetition of the elections on November 10. The PSOE has within reach a favorable majority of 167 votes in favor. But 165 against. Negotiations with ERC (13 deputies) would end in an agreement to promote the Government-Generalitat dialogue table. But the independentistas have transferred to the PSOE that they would only abstain. So that it is essential that Bildu (5 deputies) do not join the block of no. Bildu would end up abstaining and in a simpler way than ERC. But there is a toll that the socialists have to pay: their political normalization.
For the first time the PSOE at the national level meets with EH Bildu. On this occasion, all parties are invited to the contact round. Also to Vox, because it was already known that Bildu had to be counted on. On December 17, 2019, the first bilateral meeting between the two took place, in the premises of the socialist parliamentary group in Congress. A few days before, Maria Chivite included Bildu in his round of negotiations to advance the budgets in Navarra. That “he does not remember anything with Bildu” was beginning to fade without remedy.
March-April 2020. First meetings with the president
The coalition government was taking its first steps with Bildu as the champion of its inauguration and as one of its potential partners. The pandemic arrives. And on account of the exceptionality, the first meetings of EH Bildu leaders with a Prime Minister take place in a normalized way and without generating great controversy. They are telematically. The first meeting between Pedro Sánchez and the Bildu spokesperson, Mertxe Aizpurua, takes place on March 17, 2020.
September 2020. The triumph of the Iglesias doctrine
The exceptionality of the pandemic makes the Government of Pedro Sánchez value very seriously in the summer of 2020 the possibility of carrying out the budgets with the affirmative votes of PNV and Citizens. And thus circumvent the negotiation with ERC and Bildu. But Pablo Iglesias enters the scene.
The then second vice president and leader of Podemos forces a negotiation with Sánchez and demands that the investiture partners be prioritized. As Ciudadanos was willing to reach an agreement, the consequence is that both ERC and Bildu, knowing that they were not essential, had to put facilities and announce your support for the accounts soon. The election of the Government together with the subsequent crisis in Cs left Sánchez with no alternatives.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism