The future of the three provinces in Spain's embattled Basque country is more uncertain than ever now that the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) has lost its majority in the regional parliament.
The question is no longer how the nationalists will deal with the central government in Madrid, but how the PNV will form a stable government.
Carlos Garaikoetxea, the region's current president, is consulting with the various parties to find a solution before the Basque parliament elects its new president at the end of this month.
Several factors during the election contributed to the new political scene in the Basque region: greater participation - 68 percent, compared to 60 percent in 1980; the absence of a centrist party this time; and the increase in the number of parliamentary seats - from 60 to 75. The outrage caused by the murders of Socialist Sen. Enrique Casas and an ETA militant across the border probably also influenced the outcome of the elections.
Major gains by the Socialist Party moved it into second place behind the PNV, supplanting Herri Batasuna, the nationalist party backed by ETA, the terrorist organization. Herri Batasuna still has considerable backing, but it slipped because of the increased number of seats. The radicals retained their 11 seats, despite a tough campaign equating them with terrorists. (They plan to continue to boycott the parliament to protest the present autonomy statutes.)
Euzkadiko Ezkerra, the left-wing nationalist party, retained its six seats. This support for all the nationalist forces indicates a strong will in the Basque population to continue with autonomy.
But the more even distribution between the nationalists and the ''Espanolistas'' (those who, like the Socialists, want more collaboration with the central government) and between extremists and moderate tendencies will force the PNV to be more conciliatory.
Pedro Miguel Etxenike, spokesman for the Basque parliament, recognized that the results ''made it more necessary to reach a dialogue.''
Mr. Garaikoetxea may seek a coalition, but he said he wants to maintain a ''mono-color'' government if possible. He made it clear he would enter a pact only if the party consulted maintained the same stand on autonomy and the transfer of powers.