15 May, 2023 @ 20:00
1 min read

Opposition leader calls on PM to take action over inclusion of 44 former ETA terrorists on election lists

Opinion poll reveals revitalised Partido Popular under new leader Feijoo could form new Spanish government after December's general election
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A POLITICAL storm over 44 convicted ETA terrorists running for office in the upcoming May 28 local and regional elections deepened on Monday, as the leader of the main opposition Popular Party (PP) called on the prime minister to take action. 

Speaking from Bilbao, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo said that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist Party should ‘clearly and publicly’ break ties with EH Bildu, the Basque nationalist party that is fielding the controversial candidates at the upcoming polls. 

The controversy began last week when local media in the Basque Country reported that 44 of the candidates from EH Bildu had been convicted for terrorism offences during ETA’s decades-long campaign of terror aimed at the region breaking away from Spain. Of the 44, seven were convicted of murder. 

The news has caused outrage among victims associations and opposition politicians, and is politically damaging for the government, a coalition of the Socialist Party and leftist Unidas Podemos, because it relies on the votes of five EH Bildu lawmakers in Congress in order to pass legislation. 

“You cannot be in government at any price,” Nuñez Feijoo said about the minority government’s deals with EH Bildu. 

Nuñez Feijoo also called on the solicitor general’s office to investigate whether there is a legal route to stopping these candidates from running at the elections. 

In response, Socialist Party spokesperson Pilar Alegria called on the PP of ‘indecently clinging on to terrorism’ to ‘claw back some votes’ at the upcoming polls. 

“The more that Feijoo deflates, the more that they raise the decibels of all this noise, so that Mr Feijoo can cover up his lack of a coherent plan,” Alegria added in comments reported by Europa Press.

Equality Minister Irene Montero of Unidas Podemos also called on right-wing parties to stop their ‘shameful’ campaign of talking about ETA, which completely dissolved in 2018, out of respect for the pain of the victims. 

Speaking at the weekend, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the move by EH Bildu ‘indecent’.

EH Bildu is a nationalist coalition that seeks independence for the northern Basque Country region of Spain. It has historic links to other radical leftist parties that were outlawed in Spain during ETA’s bloody campaign, such as Batasuna. 

ETA was operational between 1959 and 2018, the year when it was officially dissolved. The group killed nearly 830 people between 1968 and 2010, and injured tens of thousands more.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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