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Common sense prevails as Bildu is allowed to run in elections

Spain’s top court allows a nationalist coalition to participate in the May 22 local elections, reflecting a refreshing willingness by the judiciary to ignore political distractions and examine the facts.


Just as the campaign leading up to the May 22 local elections was starting, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Friday that the Bildu Basque nationalist coalition should be allowed to take part. A vote of six votes to five reflects the intense political pressure surrounding this landmark vote.

While there will inevitably be outraged voices in Madrid, the ruling is an encouraging sign that Spain’s highly politicised courts can take tough decisions based on the evidence before them, rather than vague suspicions that ETA terrorists must be at work behind the scenes.

The izquierda abertzale, the pro-independence Basque left, has made substantial moves to prove its own democratic credentials in recent months, as well as to persuade ETA to abandon violence. Yet when the Constitutional Court ruled in March that newly formed party Sortu was illegal due to its alleged links to ETA, it looked like the Spanish judiciary’s blanket approach to almost everything nationalist had not changed. But the closeness of that vote against Sortu hinted that magistrates were more willing than before to block out the political noise around them and examine the facts.

The governing Socialists, who passed this case on to the courts, seem to feel obligated to dismiss any move by the izquierda abertzale as an ETA ploy for political reasons, not least pressure from the Popular Party. However, on this occasion, their key congressional partnership with the moderate Basque nationalists of the PNV was at risk of falling apart if the court voted against Bildu.

Despite so much political pressure, Spain’s top court has shown, by the slimmest of margins, an admirably cool head on this occasion.

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Published: May 6 2011
Category: Iberoblog
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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