Super-election weekend!

This blog isn’t dead, to all those watching this space anxiously. Just that we’ve been in a major dull for elections these past few weeks since Sardinia (talking about them, those goons still haven’t finished counting. A Corsican-style election would be nice). However, fear not! We have four very interesting regional elections coming up this Sunday. Two of them in Spain, two of them in Austria.

Austria

Carinthia

An election will be held in the southernmost Austrian state, Carinthia. You may know it as the state of the  far-right leader Jörg Haider, who died last October. Indeed, he was Governor of the state since 1999, and had also served briefly from 1989 to 1991. In 2004, Haider was still a member of the largest Austrian far-right party, the FPÖ. In the Carinthian elections that year, Haider’s FPÖ resisted spectacularly despite a bad period nationally. The FPÖ won 42.4%, ahead of the Social Democrats (SPÖ), who won 38.4%. The mainstream right, the ÖVP won only 11.6% and the Greens won 6.7%, earning them 2 seats. Carinthia has a small declining Carinthian Slovene population, making up around 2% of the population. Slovenes tend to be heavily SPÖ, although the Greenies or Liberal Forum also does very well because a small Slovene party makes alliances with either of the two. See the village of Zell, 89% Slovene, for example. However, Carinthia, like most Austrian states has a Grand Coalition government composed of the BZÖ, SPÖ, and ÖVP.

However, in disagreements with some other FPÖ members, he formed a new party in 2005, the BZÖ, or Alliance for the Future of Austria. 15 of the 16 Carinthian FPÖ MPs joined the BZÖ. Shortly before his death in October 2008, Haider’s BZÖ won 10.7% of the votes and 21 seats in the September 2008 federal election. In Carinthia, he won 38.5%, placing ahead of all other parties.

Since Haider’s death, the new Governor of Carinthia has been Gerhard Dörfler, also a member of the BZÖ.

Current polling (Gallup)

BZÖ 37%-41%
SPÖ 36%-40%
ÖVP 11%-13%
Greens 5%-7%
FPÖ 5%-7%

Alternatively, a Market poll from the 22nd. As a bonus, a seat simulation on these figures.

BZÖ 39% (15 seats, ±0)
SPÖ 37% (15 seats, +1)
ÖVP 12% (4 seats, ±0)
Greens 7% (2 seats, ±0)
FPÖ 5% (0, -1)

Salzburg

Elections are also being held in the traditionally conservative but SPÖ-ruled state of Salzburg. In 2004, the SPÖ 45.4% and won 17 seats, placing ahead of the ÖVP, which had won all elections since 1945. The ÖVP won 37.9% and only 14 seats. The FPÖ, which had won nearly 20% in 1999, was reduced to 8.7% and only 2 seats. The Greens made some gains, winning 8% and keeping their 2 MPs. Gabi Burgstaller (SPÖ) become Governor, the first SPÖ Governor of Salzburg. The current government is another grand coalition, SPÖ-ÖVP.

Burgstaller has maintained positive approval ratings throughout, though some polls have indicated that the race will be close.

The latest polls, first from IGF (seat projection in brackets)

SPÖ 41% (15 seats, -2)
ÖVP 35% (13 seats, -3)
FPÖ 14% (5 seats, +3)
Greens 8% (3 seats, +1)
BZÖ 2% (0 seats)

Gallup, however, is seeing a much closer race:

SPÖ 38-40%
ÖVP 36-38%
FPÖ 12-14%
Greens 6-8%
BZÖ 3-5%

Spain

Basque Country

The Spanish autonomous community of the Basque Country will be holding elections, four years after the last elections. The Basque Country, which speaks Basque (though a large majority speak Spanish as a mother toungue) , not related in any ways to Spanish or French, has a very strong nationalist sentiment, as you might know. And also a strong terrorist nationalist group, ETA. However, Basque nationalism, in opposition to Catalonian nationalism or most other European nationalists, is right-wing and not left-wing. Indeed, Basque nationalism was historically very close to the Catholic Church and was founded as a response to the influx of progressive/socialist ideas in the south of the Basque Country from ethnic Spanish workers. The main Basque nationalist party, founded in 1895, is the Basque Nationalist Party, commonly known as EAJ-PNV, which stands for Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea-Partido Nacionalista Vasco (in France, EAJ-PNB). EAJ, generally centre-right/Christiandem, is a member of the European Democratic Party (along with the French MoDem and Italian PD), and formerly a member of the Christian Democrat International (CDI). EAJ stands for Basque independence, but has rejected violent means of attaining it (ETA). All Basque regional Presidents since the Statute of Autonomy have come from EAJ-PNV. In past elections, however, it has often sided with left-wing Basque nationalists, because the EAJ is also a kind of a large tent for Basque nationalists (the ETA was formed out EAJ in the ’50’s). For example, in 2005, it ran a common list with Basque Solidarity (Eusko Alkartasuna, EA, which split from the EAJ in 1987). Other Basque nationalist parties are smaller and socialist: EA, Aralar. Batasuna, ETA’s now-illegal political arm, has run in most elections since 1980 under various names, most recently as the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (EHAK or PCTV) in 2005, which won 12.5% and 9 seats. Batasuna’s support fluctuated from 8% to 15%. The Spanish Socialists, PSOE, are known as the PSE-EE, which stands for Partido Socialista de Euskadi – Euskadiko Ezkerra. Euskadiko Ezkerra, or Basque Left, was a Basque nationalist party which merged with the PSE in 1991. The Popular Party, PP, the party most strongly opposed to the Statute of Autonomy and Basque nationalism, is considerably weaker in the Basque Country (likewise in Catalonia). The local section thingy of the United Left, the Spanish communist/ecosocialist front, is known as Ezker Batua – Berdeak (Basque United Left-Greens) or EB-B.

The 2005 results. EHAK is compared to the 2001 result of Euskal Herritarrok, which was how ETA Batasuna called themselves then.

EAJ-PNV + EA 38.67% (-4.05%) winning 29 seats (-4) [22 EAJ, 7 EA]
PSE-EE 22.68% (+4.78%) winning 18 seats (+5)
PP 17.40% (-5.72%) winning 15 seats (-4)
EHAK 12.44% (+2.32%) winning 9 seats (+2) banned 2008
EB-B 5.37% (-0.21%) winning 3 seats (±0)
Aralar 2.33% (new) winning 1 seat (+1)

The resulting government was formed by 9 EAJ, 3 EA, and 1 EB-B. Juan José Ibarretxe, incumbent lehendakari (President) was re-elected.

In the 2008 Spanish elections, the PSE-EE made important gains in the Basque Country, placing 11% ahead of EAJ (PSE-EE 38%, EAJ 27%).

The situation ahead of these elections seems very tight, and there is a real possibility that the EAJ could lose the office of lehendakari for the first time since the Statute of Autonomy. EA will be running alone this election, and there is a new party running: Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), a centrist party which merges social liberalism and secularism with anti-nationalism and opposition to the current autonomies system. UPyD was founded in 2007 in the Basque Country, but it did best in Madrid in the 2008 elections (winning 1 seat). UPyD is currently polling quite well nationally. As for Batasuna-ETA, which had its front, EHAK, banned in 2008, they have called on voters to vote for Democracy 3 Millions (D3M), which they organized but was later banned in February 2009. However, D3M will appear on the ballot and votes cast for them will be counted as invalid votes. One poll on February 16 projected around 10% of invalid votes (aka 10% for ETA). The latest poll is from February 23 by Público.

EAJ-PNV 34.1% winning 26-28 seats (+4/+6)
PSE-EE 29.1% winning 23-25 seats (+5/+7)
PP 10.9% winning 9-11 seats (-6/-4)
Aralar 8.4% winning 6 seats (+5)
EB-B 6% winning 4 seats (+1)
EA 5% winning 3-4 seats (-4/-3)
UPyD 3.1% winning 1-3 seats (+1/+3)

On most calculations, a EAJ-EA-Aralar-EBB government would have an absolute majority (38 seats out of 75).

Taking all seat projections, the average forks are EAJ 26-30, PSE 22-28, PP 9-15, EB-B 3-5, EA 0-4, Aralar 1-6, UPyD 0-3.

On a totally unrelated note, I’ll try setting up a quick poll with the poll option on here for the Basque elections. VOTE!

Galicia

There will also be elections in the farwestern Spanish autonomy of Galicia, the birthplace of Franco and an early nationalist stronghold in the Civil War. For that reason, Galicia is quite a PP stronghold, though there is a sizeable nationalist sentiment. Indeed, a near majority speak Galician, a language close to Portuguese. The PP held an absolute majority from 1989 to 2005, and from 199o to 2005, the Galician President was Manuel Iribarne, a former Francoist cabinet minister and known admirer of Franco. His popularity took a hit after his government failed to respond to the 2002 Prestige oil spill off Galicia. He was also hurt by divisions within the Galician PP. Apart from the PSOE, known as the PSdeG in Galicia, there is a local centre-left nationalistic/devolutionist party, the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG). The BNG includes some outright nationalists, most of them commies, but the BNG abandoned its separatist rhetoric in 1990. That helped them quite a bit electorally. Otherwise, all other parties, such as the IU, are totally inexistent in Galicia.

The 2005 election results. The PP won 37 seats, one short of an overall majority, and the PSOE formed a coalition government with the BNG. The current government includes 9 Socialists, and 5 Galician Nationalists. The President is Emilio Pérez Touriño (PSdeG)

PP 44.9% (-6.7%) winning 37 seats (-4)
PSdeG-PSOE 32.5% (+10.7%) winning 25 seats (+8)
BNG 19.6% (-3) winning 13 seats (-4)

Current polling from February 22 from El Mundo

PP 44.5% winning 36-38 seats (-1/+1)
PSdeG-PSOE 33.1% winning 25-26 seats (±0, +1)
BNG 18.3% winning 12-13 seats (-1/±0)

The forks taking into account all projections say PP 33-38, PSOE 22-27, BNG 11-16. Obviously, if the PP wins 38 seats tomorrow, it’s all over and the PP wins. Gah. If not, then the current PSdeG-BNG coalition could continue.

Ikusi arte bihar!

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Posted on February 28, 2009, in Austria, Basque Country, Election Preview, Regional and local elections, Spain. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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