The Basque Parliament has elected Andoni Aldekoa this Thursday as the new general director of EiTB to replace Maite Iturbe, who has been in office since 2013. Proposed by the government parties, PNV and PSE-EE, his profile has not attracted further support among the opposition, which has harshly criticized his closeness to the Executive and the “politicization” of Basque radio and television. Aldekoa faces a transcendental stage for the entity, pending a comprehensive reform and plunged into an audience crisis, especially on the Basque television channels.
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Aldekoa has worked in the media before making the leap into politics. He was the right hand of the mayor of Bilbao Iñaki Azkuna, advisor to the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, and in recent years he has served as the head of the Euskalduna Palace. He has also participated in electoral lists of the PNV. “He has demonstrated a track record. He is a person of dialogue and has proven experience as a manager. We believe that he will do well,” said Joseba Díez Antxustegi, representative of the PNV. The Socialists – who had been very critical of Iturbe despite supporting his appointment from the opposition in 2013 – have highlighted the “managerial profile” and the “open, conciliatory and dialoguing spirit” of the new general director, in the words of Miren Gallástegui. Both government partners had agreed on this proposal.
However, the opposition – from Vox to the nationalist left – has not considered this profile adequate due to its proximity to the Government and the Lehendakari. “We have nothing against Mr. Aldekoa, but the independence of the party …”, said Luis Gordillo, from PP + Cs. Along the same lines, David Soto (Elkarrekin Podemos-IU) has pointed out that “EiTB suffers from an excess of politicization.” And, finally, EH Bildu has been the formation that most frontally criticized the appointment.
Parliamentarian Jasone Agirre, a former EiTB journalist, has wondered “how scared there is that the EiTB director will be chosen by public competition. “If you think he’s the best candidate, why not?”, Challenged Agirre, who also pointed out that Aldekoa has no higher education or knowledge of Basque – he said that on Twitter he only posted “eskerrik asko” and “zorionak “in the last year-, audiovisual professional experience of decades ago and without plan for the reform of the entity. He has even mentioned a report from his time at the Bilbao City Council that alluded to irregular contract awards.
“Independence from the Government? Can it be who has been in appointment positions? Someone who is a member of the PNV and has been an advisor to the Lehendakari? You have put the fox to take care of the henhouse,” Agirre added in his harsh intervention. The PNV and EH Bildu benches have exchanged fuss during the debate. “This is legitimate, but he will be the CEO with the most votes against in all of history,” Agirre added. Of course, it will not be the one with the fewest votes in favor from the Chamber, since Alberto Surio added 39 in 2009. Iturbe reached 43 in 2013.
EH Bildu’s words have motivated a harsh reply from the PNV. “Let me tell you that you are making a mistake, criticizing the appointment of a person before even knowing the results of his management.” Diez Antxustegi has said that it is “a matter of statistics” that the person chosen for the position is from the PNV, because it is the party with the most electoral support. And he added: “The people of the PNV do not have the right to direct a public company and those of EH Bildu do?”.
Aldekoa has not gone to Parliament in a session that launched new restrictions motivated by the pandemic. Only 42 of the 75 parliamentarians and less than half of the Government have attended the plenary session. All the interventions have already been made with the masks and many of the speakers have chosen not to use the shared platform and speak from their seats. Likewise, capacity has also been limited in the press and guest stands and even in the cafeteria.