Basque leader disqualified from standing for election

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© Sinn Féin flickr
Arnaldo Otegi.

WITH the Basque Parliamentary elections due to be held on Sunday September 25, a new row has broken out between the Spanish authorities and the EH Bildu party which campaigns for Basque independence as it has been decided that its leader Arnaldo Otegi is not eligible to stand for election.

The reason given is that Mr Otegi was jailed for ‘terrorist’ activities connected with ETA, although he was mainly involved in belonging to a proscribed organisation rather than being actively in favour of acts of violence.

The argument is however that he has been banned from standing for public office until 2021 although his lawyer suggests that the judgement was so vague this it should not be used to stop him from contesting this particular election.

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Although there are somewhat complicated laws in place with regards to this matter, it is possible, and more than likely, that the party will appeal against the ruling and a final outcome should be known by September 7.

Opinions are split as to whether this current ban is likely to encourage undecided voters to take part in the poll and if so whether they will side with those who support the banned leader or will show solidarity with the traditional Spanish parties.

In the meantime, the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, has somewhat unsurprisingly sided with the Bildu party criticising the decision to stop him from standing for election.

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