Basque regional election, 2009

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Basque regional election, 2009

← 2005 1 March 2009 2012 →

All 75 seats in the Basque Parliament
38 seats needed for a majority
Registered 1,776,059 Red Arrow Down.svg1.3%
Turnout 1,148,697 (64.7%)
Red Arrow Down.svg3.3 pp
  First party Second party Third party
  Juan José Ibarretxe 2007 (cropped).jpg Patxi López 2012 (cropped).jpg Antonio Basagoiti 2011b (cropped).jpg
Leader Juan José Ibarretxe Patxi López Antonio Basagoiti
Leader since 31 January 1998 23 March 2002 25 October 2008
Leader's seat Álava Biscay Biscay
Last election 22 seats (PNV–EA)[a] 18 seats, 22.5% 15 seats, 17.3%
Seats won 30 25 13
Seat change Green Arrow Up Darker.svg8 Green Arrow Up Darker.svg7 Red Arrow Down.svg2
Popular vote 399,600 318,112 146,148
Percentage 38.1% 30.4% 13.9%
Swing n/a Green Arrow Up Darker.svg7.9 pp Red Arrow Down.svg3.4 pp

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Aintzane Ezenarro 2009 (cropped).jpg Unai Ziarreta 2007 (cropped).jpg Javier Madrazo 2007 (cropped).jpg
Leader Aintzane Ezenarro Unai Ziarreta Javier Madrazo
Party Aralar EA EB–B
Leader since 14 November 2004 16 December 2007 14 May 1994
Leader's seat Guipúzcoa Biscay Biscay
Last election 1 seat, 2.3% 7 seats (PNV–EA)[a] 3 seats, 5.3%
Seats won 4 1 1
Seat change Green Arrow Up Darker.svg3 Red Arrow Down.svg6 Red Arrow Down.svg2
Popular vote 62,514 38,198 36,373
Percentage 6.0% 3.6% 3.5%
Swing Green Arrow Up Darker.svg3.7 pp n/a Red Arrow Down.svg1.8 pp

Constituency results map for the Basque Parliament

Lehendakari before election

Juan José Ibarretxe

Elected Lehendakari

Patxi López

The 2009 Basque regional election was held on Sunday, 1 March 2009, to elect the 9th Parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community. All 75 seats in the Parliament were up for election. The election was held simultaneously with a regional election in Galicia.

Shortly before the election, two parties reportedly tied to ETAD3M (Democracia 3 Millones or Demokrazia Hiru Milloi) and Askatasuna, "Freedom"—were banned by a court ruling from standing in the election.[1]

In stark contrast with the latest Spanish general elections, which showed an increasing tendency to bipartidism, this Basque regional election increased the number of parties or electoral alliances with representation in the Basque parliament to seven, with the entrance of UPyD. This placed the Basque parliament at the top of the most diverse regional parliaments in Spain, with Catalonia's and the Balearic Islands's (six each) a close second.

After nearly 30 years of constant presence in the regional executive, this election opened the door for a non-Basque Nationalist Party (PNV)-led government, since its government partners for the past decade, Eusko Alkartasuna and Esker Batua, fared particularly badly. The PNV managed to scoop up most of EA's support and gain an additional representative even without their former coalition partner, whose group was greatly reduced from six representatives (in the PNV–EA coalition in the 2005 election) to just one. Both the EA and EB leaders lost their seats and resigned in the aftermath of the election.

In the non-nationalist camp, the Socialists gained seven seats to garner a 25-strong caucus, an all-around good result across the three provinces but less than the 26-28 projected by some polls on election day and still far from the first-party status hoped by party leader Patxi López. The People's Party had switched leaders less than a year before the elections: former leader María San Gil left citing disagreements with the national leadership and was replaced by Antonio Basagoiti, who led the party into the election and achieved 13 representatives, a net loss of two from 2005. The new national party Union, Progress and Democracy, founded in 2007 as a response to the perceived overinfluence of nationalist parties in Spain-wide politics, managed to gain one seat in Álava.


Electoral system[edit]

The Basque Parliament was the devolved, unicameral legislature of the autonomous community of the Basque Country, having legislative power in regional matters as defined by the Spanish Constitution and the Basque Statute of Autonomy, as well as the ability to vote confidence in or withdraw it from a Lehendakari.[2] Voting for the Parliament was on the basis of universal suffrage, which comprised all nationals over eighteen, registered in the Basque Country and in full enjoyment of their political rights.

The 75 members of the Basque Parliament were elected using the D'Hondt method and a closed list proportional representation, with a threshold of 3 percent of valid votes—which included blank ballots—being applied in each constituency. Parties not reaching the threshold were not taken into consideration for seat distribution. Additionally, the use of the D'Hondt method might result in an effective threshold over three percent, depending on the district magnitude.[3] Seats were allocated to constituencies, corresponding to the Basque provinces of Álava, Biscay and Guipúzcoa. Each constituency was allocated a fixed number of 25 seats each, to provide for an equal representation of the three provinces in Parliament as required under the regional Statute of Autonomy.[2][4] This meant that Álava was allocated the same number of seats as Biscay and Gipuzkoa, despite their populations being, as of 1 January 2009: 315,280, 1,154,628 and 704,173, respectively.[5]

The electoral law provided that parties, federations, coalitions and groupings of electors were allowed to present lists of candidates. However, groupings of electors were required to secure the signature of at least 1 percent of the electors registered in the constituency for which they sought election. Electors were barred from signing for more than one list of candidates. Concurrently, parties and federations intending to enter in coalition to take part jointly at an election were required to inform the relevant Electoral Commission within ten days of the election being called.[4][6][7]

Election date[edit]

The term of the Basque Parliament expired four years after the date of its previous election, unless it was dissolved earlier. The election Decree was required to be issued no later than the twenty-fifth day prior to the date of expiry of parliament and published on the following day in the Official Gazette of the Basque Country, with election day taking place on the fifty-fourth day from publication. The previous election was held on 17 April 2005, which meant that the legislature's term would have expired on 17 April 2009. The election Decree was required to be published no later than 24 March 2009, with the election taking place on the fifty-fourth day from publication, setting the latest possible election date for the Parliament on Sunday, 17 May 2009.[2][4]

The Lehendakari had the prerogative to dissolve the Basque Parliament at any given time and call a snap election, provided that no motion of no confidence was in process. In the event of an investiture process failing to elect a Lehendakari within a sixty-day period from the Parliament re-assembly, the Parliament was to be dissolved and a fresh election called.[8]

Opinion polls[edit]

The table below lists voting intention estimates in reverse chronological order, showing the most recent first and using the dates when the survey fieldwork was done, as opposed to the date of publication. Where the fieldwork dates are unknown, the date of publication is given instead. The highest percentage figure in each polling survey is displayed with its background shaded in the leading party's colour. If a tie ensues, this is applied to the figures with the highest percentages. The "Lead" column on the right shows the percentage-point difference between the parties with the highest percentages in a given poll. When available, seat projections are also displayed below the voting estimates in a smaller font. 38 seats were required for an absolute majority in the Basque Parliament.

Color key:

  Exit poll



Summary of the 1 March 2009 Basque Parliament election results
Parties and coalitions Popular vote Seats
Votes % ±pp Total +/−
Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV)1 399,600 38.14 n/a 30 +8
Socialist Party of the Basque Country–Basque Country Left (PSE–EE (PSOE)) 318,112 30.36 +7.85 25 +7
People's Party (PP) 146,148 13.95 –3.32 13 –2
Aralar (Aralar) 62,514 5.97 +3.66 4 +3
Basque Solidarity (EA)1 38,198 3.65 n/a 1 –6
United Left–Greens (EB–B) 36,373 3.47 –1.86 1 –2
Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) 22,233 2.12 New 1 +1
The Greens (B–LV) 5,643 0.54 New 0 ±0
For a Fairer World (PUM+J) 3,072 0.29 +0.19 0 ±0
Anti-Bullfighting Party Against Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA/ZAAAA) 1,504 0.14 –0.19 0 ±0
Internationalist Socialist Workers' Party (POSI) 1,178 0.11 –0.08 0 ±0
Family and Life Party (PFyV) 1,052 0.10 New 0 ±0
Humanist Party (PH) 418 0.04 –0.08 0 ±0
Carlist Party of the Basque Country–Carlist Party (EKA–PC) 151 0.01 ±0.00 0 ±0
Communist Party of the Basque Homelands (PCTV/EHAK) n/a n/a –12.35 0 –9
Blank ballots 11,562 1.10 +0.36
Total 1,047,758 75 ±0
Valid votes 1,047,758 91.21 –8.46
Invalid votes 100,939 8.79 +8.46
Votes cast / turnout 1,148,697 64.68 –3.32
Abstentions 627,362 35.32 +3.32
Registered voters 1,776,059
Popular vote
Blank ballots

Distribution by constituency[edit]

Constituency PNV PSE–EE PP Aralar EA EB–B UPyD
% S % S % S % S % S % S % S
Álava 30.0 8 31.2 9 21.1 6 4.3 1 3.5 3.3 3.9 1
Biscay 41.1 12 30.2 8 13.9 4 4.2 1 2.9 3.4 1.9
Guipúzcoa 36.5 10 30.2 8 10.5 3 10.2 2 5.2 1 3.7 1 1.7
Total 38.1 30 30.4 25 13.9 13 6.0 4 3.6 1 3.4 1 2.1 1

Results counting void votes[edit]

After D3M and Askatasuna were banned, Basque separatists were asked to cast their vote for D3M, whose votes would then be counted as void. Some people were arrested because they delivered door-to-door ballots and stuck cartels.[11] According to some sources, the pro-independence Basque left (that were formerly represented by Batasuna and later by EHAK) was surprised by the lower support of their void option. If the void votes are to be counted as the support of this option, it would have obtained the worst results in their history, having received 100,924 void votes, 50,000 less than in the previous regional election and less than half their historical top in the 1998 election.[12]

Major electoral analysis has been performed on the results and the issue of the void votes by pro-Basque nationalist and non-Basque nationalist parties alike. It is a frequent misunderstanding that, had the votes for the illegal lists been counted as valid, they would have been entitled to seven seats.[13] Actually, taking into account that the average of "normal" void votes (struck-out names, double-voting, etc.) in the last three Basque regional elections (1998, 2001 and 2005) was about 0,4%,[12] and assuming that all the void votes that could not be accounted for by that statistic alone were cast for a hypothetical unitary abertzale list (instead of for two different lists, Askatasuna and D3M), those ~97,000 votes would have accounted for at most 6 seats.[14]


Socialist leader Patxi Lopez, second in the election, became the new Lehendakari after securing a deal with the conservative PP

Even in a Parliament already used to diversity, the election result was wide open. Respecting parliamentary convention, all parties decided to let the PNV try to form a coalition, but it was finally not able to garner a majority support:

  • A PNV–PSE government would have enjoyed the support of 55 MPs out of 75 and the support of part of the socialist and most of the nationalist bases. However, PSE-EE leader Patxi López requested that he become the new Lehendakari, citing the 1986 precedent in which the PSE won more seats but let the PNV chair the coalition government on account of the latter having received more votes. This terms were unacceptable to PNV candidate and incumbent Lehendakari Juan José Ibarretxe and the PNV as a whole, who expressed its "outrage" at the demands of Mr. López's formation.
Nationalist leader and incumbent Lehendakari Juan José Ibarretxe tried, but failed, to garner support for a new term in government.
  • A PNV–PP government would have secured 43 MPs. While unseen in the Basque Country, the People's Party has indeed acted as a junior coalition partner in Catalonia, where it supported the previously-regionalist CiU until the 2003 election. Nevertheless, PP leader Antonio Basagoiti rejected the pact, remarking that the PNV should leave the government if only for the sake of democracy and alternance.
  • A minority PNV government, either with or without its recent allies EA and EB was not an option, since even with the support of the other nationalist party, Aralar, the coalition would be limited to 36 MPs against the previsible rejection of the other 39.

After the nationalists' failure to build a successful coalition, the Socialist Party started its contacts. They soon secured the support of their national arch-rival, the conservative People's Party, which vowed to support him in order to oust the nationalists from government after nearly three decades of constant presence. Furthermore Union, Progress and Democracy and Esker Batua, with one MP each, promised not to vote against Mr. López in the investiture session. Thus, the PSE-EE had secured 38 votes in favour and two abstentions, with at most 35 MPs against, and should nothing fail, Mr. López would head the new Basque government. The confirmation of this pact caused the outrage of the PNV, which vowed to put forth its own candidate in the investiture session[15] citing their "right" to head the government as the top-voted party.

The conditions of the pact between the socialist and the conservatives were a matter of constant speculation in the whole of Spain for most of March, with the issue being raised in many political talk shows and press editorials. Many radicals from both parties claimed that the other would just use their coalition partner, effectively diluting their core ideology. As the negotiation advanced, PP leader Antonio Basagoiti made it clear that he would not request positions in the new Government, acknowledging the PSE-EE wish to form a minority government with external support from his party. He vowed to provide stability to the new executive, and attacked the "shamelessness" of PNV outcries, citing that the Álava provincial government was headed by the PNV itself which had only been the third party in the last election. Finally it was decided that the PP would head the Basque Parliament[16] and refrain from moving or supporting any vote of no confidence, while the Socialists would form a minority government on their own and treat the PP as their "preferred" coalition partner, rejecting deals with other parties that went against their "main" one with the conservatives.

The final deal[17] was ratified by both parties and leaked to the public in the last days of March, with its formal signature being performed by the negotiation teams on April 1.[18] The new Parliament assembled on April 3 and elected its bureau, with PP MP Arantza Quiroga as its Speaker and two PSE-EE members ensuring a majority in the 5-member organ. The investiture session for the new Lehendakari, for which both López and the incumbent Ibarretxe stood, was held on May 5. Mr. López was elected Lehendakari of the Basque Country on a 39–35 vote and was sworn in two days later at the Gernika House of Assemblies.[19]

Ballot → 5 May 2009
Required majority → 38 out of 75
39 / 75
35 / 75
1 / 75
0 / 75


  1. ^ a b Within the PNV–EA alliance in the 2005 election.


Opinion poll sources
  1. ^ "Ibarretxe seguirá siendo lehendakari, según el primer sondeo Ipsos para RTVE los primeros sondeos". RTVE (in Spanish). 1 March 2009. 
  2. ^ "El PP arrasa en Galicia y el PSE será clave en Euskadi". RTVE (in Spanish). 1 March 2009. 
  3. ^ "El PNV lograría entre 30 y 32 escaños y el PSE 26 o 28, según los primeros sondeos". 20 minutos (in Spanish). 1 March 2009. 
  4. ^ "Avance: Programa especial elecciones gallegas y vascas - 01/03/2009". YouTube (in Spanish). 1 March 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c "Sondeos: todo por resolver". (in Spanish). 21 February 2009. 
  6. ^ "Euskaldemoscopia, 19 de febrero". (in Spanish). 19 February 2009. 
  7. ^ "El primer lendakari no nacionalista será posible con un pacto PSE-PP". ABC (in Spanish). 22 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "Encuesta. Radiografía del País Vasco". El Mundo (in Spanish). 22 February 2009. 
  9. ^ "La subida de Aralar da la mayoría al nacionalismo". Público (in Spanish). 23 February 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Encuestas. Euskal Demoscopia (Del 13 al 20 de febrero de 2009)". (in Spanish). 20 February 2009. 
  11. ^ "El PSE tendrá la llave del poder" (PDF). El País (in Spanish). 22 February 2009. 
  12. ^ "Barómetro TNS para Antena3 y Onda Cero Elecciones Vascas (20-02-09)". YouTube (in Spanish). 20 February 2009. 
  13. ^ "Encuestas. Deia (21 de febrero de 2009)". (in Spanish). 21 February 2009. 
  14. ^ "Encuestas elecciones vascas". (in Spanish). 17 February 2009. 
  15. ^ "Empate entre PNV y PSE con un 29% de indecisos". El Correo (in Spanish). 22 February 2009. 
  16. ^ "Empate entre PNV y PSE con un 29% de indecisos" (PDF). El Correo (in Spanish). 22 February 2009. 
  17. ^ "Empate entre PNV y PSE con un 29% de indecisos". Diario Vasco (in Spanish). 22 February 2009. 
  18. ^ "Un escaño en el aire separa al PNV y sus aliados de la mayoría absoluta". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 22 February 2009. 
  19. ^ "Elecciones autonómicas - 1 de marzo de 2009. Previsiones de voto" (PDF). Lehendakaritza (in Spanish). 20 February 2009. 
  20. ^ "Encuestas diarias hasta el 1 de marzo". (in Spanish). 15 February 2009. 
  21. ^ "El Pulsómetro: El PNV puede perder el gobierno vasco después de 30 años de hegemonía". Cadena SER (in Spanish). 13 February 2009. 
  22. ^ "Encuesta en la Comunidad Autónoma de País Vasco". Cadena SER (in Spanish). 13 February 2009. 
  23. ^ "El desplome del PP sostiene a Ibarretxe". Público (in Spanish). 8 February 2009. 
  24. ^ "Encuestas. Público (8 de febrero de 2009)". (in Spanish). 8 February 2009. 
  25. ^ "Sondeo de NC Report para LA RAZÓN: PSOE y PP se estancan pero podrían gobernar juntos en el País Vasco". La Razón (in Spanish). 9 February 2009. 
  26. ^ "Encuestas. La Razón (9 de febrero de 2009)". (in Spanish). 9 February 2009. 
  27. ^ "Preelectoral del País Vasco. Elecciones autonómicas, 2009 (Estudio nº 2784. Enero-Febrero 2009)" (PDF). CIS (in Spanish). 12 February 2009. 
  28. ^ "Soso arranque electoral en Euskadi y Galicia". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 13 February 2009. 
  29. ^ "Encuestas. Antena 3 y Onda Cero (23 de enero de 2009)". (in Spanish). 23 January 2009. 
  30. ^ "Encuestas. La Razón (12 de enero de 2009)". (in Spanish). 12 January 2009. 
  31. ^ "Estimaciones Electorales del Euskobarómetro de Noviembre de 2008 para el Parlamento Vasco" (PDF). EHU (in Spanish). 26 December 2008. 
  32. ^ a b c d e "Euskobarómetro. Estimaciones Electorales". EHU (in Spanish). 25 February 2009. 
  33. ^ "Encuestas. Euskobarómetro UPV/EHU (11 de julio de 2008)". (in Spanish). 11 July 2008. 
  34. ^ "Encuestas. Euskobarómetro UPV/EHU (Noviembre 2007)". (in Spanish). November 2007. 
  35. ^ "Encuestas. Euskobarómetro UPV/EHU (Mayo 2007)". (in Spanish). June 2007. 
  36. ^ "Encuestas. Euskobarómetro UPV/EHU (Noviembre 2006)". (in Spanish). December 2006. 
  37. ^ "Encuestas. Euskobarómetro UPV/EHU (Mayo 2006)". (in Spanish). May 2006. 
  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Statute of Autonomy for the Basque Country of 1979, Organic Law No. 3 of 18 December 1979 Official State Gazette (in Spanish). Retrieved on 17 July 2017.
  3. ^ Gallagher, Michael (30 July 2012). "Effective threshold in electoral systems". Trinity College, Dublin. Retrieved 22 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c Basque Parliament Elections Law of 1990, Law No. 5 of 15 June 1990 Official Gazette of the Basque Country (in Spanish). Retrieved on 17 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Series detalladas desde 2002. Resultados por Provincias. Población residente por fecha, sexo y edad". (in Spanish). National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 17 July 2017. 
  6. ^ General Electoral System Organic Law of 1985, Organic Law No. 5 of 19 June 1985 Official State Gazette (in Spanish). Retrieved on 28 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Representation of the people Institutional Act". Central Electoral Commission. Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  8. ^ Government Law of 1981, Law No. 7 of 30 June 1981 Official Gazette of the Basque Country (in Spanish). Retrieved on 17 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Election Results Archive". (in Spanish). Basque Government. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c "Basque Parliament elections since 1980". (in Spanish). Electoral History. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  11. ^ Gara: Official and unofficial results (in Basque)
  12. ^ a b Source: Basque Government electoral results record "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2009-04-01.  (in English) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2009-04-01.  (in Spanish) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2009-04-01.  (in Basque)
  13. ^ Pú D3M habría logrado siete escaños Archived March 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (in Spanish)
  14. ^ The discrepancy can be understood in terms of the seat allocation method used (the D'Hondt method) and, most importantly, the fact that seats are independently assigned in three 25-seat constituencies. Thus, a party can lose up to three seats by losing a single vote in each constituency.
  15. ^ Ibarrexe se presentará a la investidura por tener "80.000 razones" más que López (in Spanish)
  16. ^ El PP presidirá el Parlamento vasco a cambio de que Patxi López sea lehendakari (in Spanish)
  17. ^ Pú leaked draft of the PSE-PP deal (in Spanish)
  18. ^ BBC News: Spanish rivals secure Basque deal (in English)
  19. ^ "Patxi López ya es lehendakari tras prometer su cargo en Gernika" (in Spanish). El Mundo. 2009-05-07. Archived from the original on 8 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-07.