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Political change in tourism protection across the Basque coast

  • In coastal localities such as Sopelana, Bermeo, Mundaka, Lekeitio, Pasaia or Hondarribia, the PNV has been left out of the city hall thanks to the results of leftist parties and popular platforms presented with the programs to combat mass tourism.

17 June 2023 - 08:00

The tension generated by tourism on the Basque coast in recent decades is very violent, which marks the direction to sacrifice the natural spaces and the daily life of the population. The authorities of the major Basque institutions have told us that this is a trend without alternatives, but we have now seen that there can be changes by properly combining popular organisation and electoral mobilization. On this issue we have dedicated the latest Labour Economy monograph, which is the central theme of day 100 at the end of this spring.

On 28 May, the voters showed their interest in political change in the coastal towns starting at Ibaizabal and emerging to the east, creating a flood capable of revolutionizing the composition of municipal governments through a new mood. Why has this trend been so evident on the coast? Can we have an answer for the saturation of tourism? The influence of the platforms that emerged from the people has been decisive in many municipalities and, in general, in the most populous countries, it has become apparent that it is impossible for EH Bildu (EH Bildu) to bring about change by itself and only with its own forces. Examples such as Sopelana, Bermeo, Mundaka, Pasaia or Hondarribia show the possibilities of many new majorities and the need for a political space outside nationalism.

The cities of the Left Margin of Bizkaia that concentrate more population will have to wait another four years, and after the loss of municipal authority by the government of the left of Durango, Bermeo and Sopelana will be the largest municipalities of the ESP after Galdakao. From Uribe Kosta, the mayor of Sopelana will be Guruzne Carrasson, thanks to the agreement reached with Elkarrekin Podemos. In Plentzia, EH will regain its lead thanks to the clear victory of young Aitor Garagarza. Based on the example of this country with summer trends, we analyzed with Garagarzaga this coastal trend in the Labor Economy radio program, which shows diverse situations in each case, but it is a sign of a determined will to have a sustainable economy, the right to housing and local trade for citizens and not for tourism. Alboan, in Gorliz, the new Gorliz Bizirik platform has been the first force and the PNV has lost the stick to the third position. The popular platform Ibarrika will be decisive for the EHB of Barrika not to achieve the mayor; in Lemoiz EHB it has reached the mayor; and Bakio Amets Jauregizar maintains its mandate as it has been able to obtain the majority of the votes and the two councillors of the Bakio Bai platform that has been launched outside EH.

The wave of change extends to the Oka Ría, achieving a change in those municipalities that thanks to the contribution of public platforms have not been able to win the RHB. The clearest example has been Bermeo, where EHB and the Guzan platform have managed to break the absolute majority of the PNV and, after a deep government negotiation, have achieved a change agreement. Asier Larrauri will be the Mayor of Bermeo, thanks to the increased votes of the public platform of the new Deputy Mayor, Xabier Ortuzar, and the willingness to form a joint programme and a balanced government composition. Mundaka is probably the most surprising change of government, as it has achieved a new majority between EHB and the Citizen Alternative of former Mayor Mikel Bilbao, breaking the leadership of the PNV in 42 years. In the neighboring locality, the Sukarrieta Kanala Bizirik platform has prevailed, and the victory in EHB of Gernika to determine the orientation of political change in the region, although a government agreement with the platform of Mayor Gorroño is necessary. In the same vein, in Ibarrangelu, the Armendu platform has once again won and both Elantxobe and Ean EHB will continue in Alcaldia.

In the neighboring region, Lea Artibai, EH has won in the two main coastal municipalities, and in Markina, head of the district, has also managed to recover the control pole. The team of Ander Aldabala has recently won in Lekeitio and the Abertzale coalition maintains the mayor with the new list head, the former President Urtza Alkorta in Ondarroa.

Gipuzkoan panorama

Moving eastward, EHB has lost the opportunity to maintain the mayor's office at Deba, after the disappearance of the Debarren Ahotsa platform, decisive in the last legislatures, for not being able to reach an agreement with the Orain Deba platform. As long as Zumaia, Getaria and Orio continue to govern EHB, in Zarautz the PNV joins the mayor for the few results of the two main forces on the left.

In San Sebastian, EH Bildu is far from getting the mayor, for not being able to get the majority again with Elkarrekin Podemos, and as in the Council of Gipuzkoa, it has become clear the importance of separating the good results from the governance capacity, along with the inadequacy of the triumphalist reading of the coalition leaders. In Pasaia EHB has won the mayor thanks again to Elkarrekin Podemos, and in Hondarribia the Abotsanitz platform has won elections based on the right to housing and to work in the people. Igor Enparan, head of the platform, will get the mayor thanks to the two EH councilors.

Desire to flee

In view of all these results, there is another common tendency among them beyond being coastal towns, the need to flee the touristic exploitation promoted by the PNV in the last decades, as the decline of the access capacity to housing and working conditions is evident. The programmes of forces recovering the command pole have marked a radical change of direction, claiming the need for policies and new investments to create working and living conditions in their peoples.

The clearest example is on the Biscayan coast, where the projects promoted by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia have generated discomfort, conditioning the election results of 28 May. The newly retired Unai Rementeria, so far Deputy General, has been the thematic guide to this strategy. The mundakarra politician has acted against municipal institutions, agents and the local population, such as the wild tourist of San Juan Gaztelugatxe de Bermeo or the illegal wager of Gernika and Murueta for the new Guggenheim. Eider Gotxi, a member of SOS Gaztelugatxe and the Guggenheim Urdaibai EZ platform, is clear about the benefits that this electoral trend can bring, highlighting the need to continue strengthening the penetration and opposition capacity of the people against the wild tourist.

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