Udalbiltza - 2011/05/06
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A pro-independence political coalition can field candidates in May 22 local elections, Spain's Constitutional Court ruled on Friday, overturning a Supreme Court decision.
The decision, which was widely expected, may help repair relations between Spain's ruling Socialists and key allies in parliament, the Basque Nationalist Party, or PNV, which had fallen out over the issue.
The Constitutional Court decided that "Bildu," a pro-independence Basque nationalist coalition formed in March by two legal parties (EA and Alternatiba) and pro-independence candidates running without affiliation, can field candidates in May 22 municipal elections, a court spokesman said.
The ruling came shortly after the election campaign kicked off.
Bildu is the latest attempt by politicians linked to ETA to form a recognised political party. It was formed in April to replace Sortu, which was banned in March and had itself been formed to replace Batasuna, ETA's previously outlawed political wing.
On May 1 the Supreme Court ruled that Bildu could not participate in the local elections because some of its candidates had ties to ETA. Bildu appealed to the Constitutional Court.
The Constitutional Court's decision is positive for the Socialists who are seen as benefiting from a return to more normal democratic government in the Basque country and from the renewed support of the PNV.
The PNV, a nationalist party that is not linked to ETA, but is in favour of Bildu's participation because it has condemned terrorism and violence as political tools, said it would suspend all backing for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in the national parliament because of the Supreme Court's ruling.
Zapatero, struggling to slash the large budget deficit and convince markets that Spain is not the next euro zone crisis economy, depended on the PNV to get his austere 2011 budget passed.
The Socialists do not have a majority in parliament, so depend on temporary alliances with the PNV, which has six seats, or other small nationalist parties to get laws passed.