The latest polls show the opposition Basque nationalist party PNV with a slight lead over the Basque pro-independence coalition EH-Bildu.
Patxi López (PSE), Iñigo Urkullu (PNV), Antonio Basagoiti (PP), Laura Mintegi (EH Bildu), Raquel Modubar (EB) and Gorka Maneiro (UPyD). EITB
An election campaign to the 75-seat Parliament in the Basque Country formally starts on Thursday night launching what is shaping up as a close race between the Basque nationalist party PNV and EH Bildu, a coalition of nationalist left-wing parties formed by Eusko Alkartasuna, Aralar, Alternatiba and successors of Batasuna.
The election, which will be held on October 21st, will be marked by the first anniversary since ETA announced a "definitive cessation of its armed activity" and the highest unemployment figures ever.
Unemployment figures released in September were a record high of 151.100 and analysts say there are few prospects that a battered economy could create new jobs in the near future as the country has been hit by a second recession.
Patxi Lopez, the ruling Lehendakari and candidate for PSE-PSOE, is seeking a second term after being elected in 2009 with the support of the conservative party PP. Other repeating candidate is Antonio Basagoiti, for the Popular Party.
First-time candidates include favorites Iñigo Urkullu (PNV) and Laura Mintegi (EH Bildu). Other candidates whose parties are predicted to loose their representation are Mikel Arana (Ezker Anitza) and Gorka Maneiro (UpyD).
Euskobarometer, a sociological statistical survey conducted by the Department of Political Science of the University of the Basque Country conducted July 4 to 11 showed the Basque Nationalist Party PNV would win an upcoming vote with 23-24 seats (32 percent) in the 75-seat parliament but would fall short of absolute majority.
The poll results showed the Basque socialist party PSE, in power since 2009, would see a significant reduction in the number of seats it occupies in the parliament, 17 seats (20 percent) compared to the 25 seats they have now.
PNV would be followed closely by the pro-independence Basque left-wing coalition EH Bildu with 22 seats (24.7 percent). PP would win 12-13 seats (14 percent) and minority parties Ezker Anitza and UPyD would loose their representation in the Basque chamber. The number of people declining to vote would remain at around 35%.
According to polls, none of the candidates is predicted to win an absolute majority in the vote, so post-election agreements will result decisive to know the name of the new lehendakari.