Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 02:39:42 AM EST
As in any other European parliamentary system with proportional representation, the Basque Country has a large number of political parties, and quite a few of them have representation in the Regional Parliament.
The recently declared ETA ceasefire will kick-start a political process whose endpoint is hopefully the dissolution of ETA on the one hand and a redefinition of the political status of the Basque Country on the other.
To understand the prospects, one would need to start by understanding the players. A brief discussion follows.
From the diaries ~ whataboutbob
Political discourse in the Basque country is dominated by one issue, the national question. This means that the left/right gradation is secondary, though it does exist. On the attitudes to the status of the Basque country, the positions range from "devolution is a bad idea" to "independence by any means necessary". In my own view, here is the scale:
- PP (People's Party), Spanish right-wing, centralist nationalist, with a "Spain is breaking up" the-sky-is-falling rhetoric. The PP accepts (sometimes it seems grudgingly) the current Autonomous Community territorial arrangement within Spain.
- Unidad Alavesa (Alavese Union), a right-wing party from Alava, the least nationalist of the three Basque provinces. Accepting of Basque identity, but rejecting independence. I'm going to label them autonomist
- PSE-EE/PSOE (Basque Socialist Party), Basque branch of the Spanish Social Democrats. EE is a smaller party the PSE absorbed years ago, and which is was closely associated to an ETA faction which renounced violence after Franco's death. The PSE would probably be happy with a Federal Spain.
- IU/EB (United Left), Basque branch of the United Left party, a coalition dominated by the Communist Party. Probably Federalist, like the PSOE.
- EAJ/PNV (Basque Nationalist Party), the party of Sabino Arana, the foremost ideologue of Basque Nationalism from the late 19th century, and in power in the regional government continuously since 1980. Christian Democrat. Think of it as the Basque Fianna Fail. Its maximal program is probably a Confederation, although they have floated the term associated free state.
- EA (Eusko Alkartasuna), Social-Democrat spin-off from PNV, broke up in the late 1980's but now contests elections again in coalition with the PNV. They'd probably go for associated free state as they are a little more radical than PNV.
- Aralar, made up of Basque independentists with earlier ties to ETA, but who started advocating an end to violence years ago.
- Batasuna, the political arm of ETA, think Sinn Fein. Now represented [note: no actual connection at the decision-making level has been proven, if it were, EHAK would be banned] in the regional parliament by the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (EHAK), a tiny hitherto unknown party that was endorsed by Batasuna in the run-up to the 2005 elections when Batasuna itself was banned from running. They obviously advocate independence by any means necessary.
The following maps represent the results of the 2005 regional elections
. I got the maps from the election results site and coloured them by hand using RGB (plus black) levels proportional to vote percentages: blue for PP+UA, red for PSE+EB, green for PNV/EA and black for EHAK+Aralar. The highest percentage of nationalist vote is in Oria (11), with 70.16% v. 29.27%. The lowest percentage is in the city of Vitoria (2), with 34.31% v. 64.75%. On the right, I represent only the percentage vote for EHAK+Aralar, which ranges from 8% to 28%.
Note that the least nationalist areas within each province are around the three largest cities in the Basque country: Vitoria
(4) and San Sebastián
Earlier diaries on the issue: