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Ser: 80% of Spaniards favor dialogue with ETA.

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 05:28:12 AM EST

More than 80 % of Spaniards believe that the Spanish government should explore routes for dialouge with the Basque armed seperatist group ETA according to a poll  release by Spanish radio conglomerate Cadena Ser on Friday. PSOE, the Spanish socialists,  rose 3% compared to their performace in the last poll conducted March 16, showing lead of 9 % against the PP, the conservative opposition. Even more striking was the revalation that the public belives that the primary obligation of the PP in the Basque peace process is to support the position of the PSOE government.

What do you belive is the obligation of the PP, the principal opposition, and by extension the rest of the political parties?

To support the government, giving a vote of confidence: 85.7%

To oppose [the government] because the ETA communique is insufficient: 8.5%

Don't know: 5.1%

No answer: 0.7%

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob


As noted by Migeru earlier the PP and their allies in the EPP have made clear that they find the current ETA communique, in which they show themeselves profoundly out of touch.  Migeru has also pointed out the efforts to link the Catalan Estatut and ETA have already started, and statements by the Secretary General of ERC (Catalan left nationalist party) that the text of the Estatut should be revisited in light of the recent ETA announcement, presumably to include the term "nation", have not been helpful in this context. One thing that is certain is that the apparent end to arms in the Basque country removes one of the principal objections to a renegotiation of the state of the Spanish autonomies.

While the ERC has foolishly tried to build upon the uncertain foundation of the nascent Basque peace process, the most explosive (figuratively ... one hopes...) developments are likely to occur in the Basque country.

"A democratic solution to the conflict"

While the ETA announcment is a huge step forward, this is no guarantee that there will be no more Basque terrorism.  The organization has fractured several times in the recent past. The experience with the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland shows that accords reached with the directorate of the organization can't prevent extremists from breaking with the peacemakers.  The good news is that the the criminal infrastructure of ETA is much more limited than that of the IRA, with full time militants numbering less than a hundred.  With so few trapped in terrorism as a career, the morphing of the terrorist organization into criminal sydicate stripped of ideological pretensions much less likely than in Northern Ireland.  This is the good news, the bad news is that the Spanish and French states in capturing the leadership of ETA means that the core of the organization, that could bring the whole to the table to make peace has been compromised.  Ironic, yes. Tragic, one can hope not....

In their statement, ETA makes clear that it is their expectation that an end to arms will lead to a full normialization of politics in the Basque country.

The aim of this decision is to promote a democratic process in Euskal-Herria (the Basque Country) in order that the Basque people might implement the political change they need through dialogue, negotiation and agreement.

Leaving behind the current framework of negation, partition and imposition, a democratic framework must be built for Euskal-Herria, recognising the rights as a people which are its due and guaranteeing the opportunity to develop all political options in the future.

At the end of this process, Basque citizens must have the say and the decision on their future, thus giving a democratic solution to the conflict.

Eta considers that it is for all Basque agents to develop this process and to adopt the appropriate agreements for the future of Euskal-Herria, taking into account its plurality and its totality.

"Democratic solution" is a very clever euphemism for something that is likely to prove highly divisive, an independence referendum.  Basque premier Juan Jose Ibarratxe invited all parties in the Basque country to a roundtable discussion on the development of the Basque peace process that his PNV (Basque Nationalist Party) has said should be distinguished from the negotiation between Madrid and ETA.

Basque leader Josu Jon Imaz stated it is necessary to mark "a temporary distance" between Basque armed group ETA-Spanish government negotiations and the creation of a parties' table. In addition to this, he pointed out that talks on the release of prisoners cannot be carried out while violence "belongs to present", demanding the Basque Premier Juan José Ibarretxe to "play part" in the multi-party forum to be created, but not conditioning political dialogue.

.....

Imaz agreed with the Spanish PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero that "self-determinism" or political affairs "cannot be negotiated with ETA." Following that, Imaz refused to advance whether the right to decide about self-determinism will be tackled at the parties' table.

Any normalization of the political situation in the Basque country supposes that Batasuna, ETA's political wing (akin to the relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA) will be an active particpant in these discussions, and with the PP unlikely to sit down at this roundtable the situation is created where the PNV with the support of Batasuna, the IU-EB (United Left, reconstructed communists), and possibily PSE (the PSOE affiliate in the Basque country) can have another go at the autonomy referendum proposed by Ibarratxe (others called it an indepence plan, it envisioned a Basque state affiliated to Spain encompassing Alava, Guizpucoa, Visacaya, Navarra, and 3 French provinces (Lapurdi, Basee Navarre, and Zuberoa.)

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That's right, Ibarratxe envisioned Bayonne and Biarritz as part of a Greater Euzkadi, the basque homeland. There is exactly zero chance that Lapurdi and the French Pays Basque will have any part in a Basque state, however the status of Navarra is more questionable.  Ironically, in the 3 Basque provinces an independence referendum would likely be very, very close.  If Navarra votes as well, it stands a referendum stands no chance for victory.  Taken on a province by province basis, independence would almost certainly win in Guiouzcoa, would likely win in Vizcaya, and would almost certainly go to defeat in Alava.  Thus, the format of any proposed referendum would be vital in interpreting its outcome, and with peace at vote offering the status quo, greater autonomy, and independence is likely.  The likely end result is that there will be greatly expanded autonomy short of independence for the Basque country. The disposition of the EU towards the admission of an independent Basque state would also have a huge impact on any vote.

The honeymoon is going to end soon, and the realization that dialogue means concessions from both parties has not yet been realized in Spain.  Once ETA asks for the release of imprisoned members and an independence referendum the poltical situation in Spain will change dramatically. Zapatero has thus far tamed the passions around the subject of Basque terrorism, but there is a hard core in the PP that opposes any recognition that Spain is a single state inhabited by many nations. There's been a rising tide of discontent in the Spanish right since the election of Zapatero.  Negotiation with ETA will only inflame them more, and the possibility exist that to confront concessions designed to end the terrorists threat from ETA, the factions in the Spanish right wing may resort to terrorist tactics themselves. If thse involved members of the armed forces, this only raises the stakes.  The concept of irony is clearly lost upon the Spanish right.

Poll
Should there be an indepence referendum in the Basque country?
. Yes 50%
. No 0%
. Your notion of the state offends me. 50%

Votes: 4
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Believe me I think that the ETA comunique is a good thing, but I take a far more sanguine few of the prospects for peace in the Basque country. The penetration of the conflict into every aspect of life in the region is hard to understand. The journey of ETA from a legitimate resistance against the Francoist state into the  group that blow up a car in front of a fucking elementary school in Sanguesa, teaches us that instead of an end to arms the possibilty of an dichotomy paradox where the organization is halved till infinity, leaving behind a smaller, more pathological core that is even more violent than the organization was before.

The very limited number of full time militants limits the organizatonal capcity of breakaway groups, however there will likel remain a pathological core that refuses to accept piece and will have to be hunted down.  Cornered animals fight the most ferocious. And we are, as a species, if nothing else poorly behaved great apes.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 03:28:40 AM EST
Great diary, by the way!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 04:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just because Carod (leader of ERC) has been the subject of a fierce character assasination campaign by the PP does not mean that he's not an idiot. Yesterday, he criticized Zapatero for "being bolder in negotiating the ETA ceasefire than the Catalan statute". I'm still picking pieces of my jaw from the floor.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 04:53:19 AM EST
Did you see that Carod went to the hospital with chest pains yesterday?  Maybe there is a God.......

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 09:36:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He just takes himself too seriously, I think. He got too excited about this stuff. And I think he actually has angina.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:02:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now seriously, sometimes I can't help but thinking that Carod wishes Terra Lluire had never stopped its own terrorism (which ended around 1980). If you're not familiar with Catalan radical left independentist terrorism, research around "Heribert Barrera".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:26:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ERC: History of ERC
At the 16th National Conference (November 1989) a new leadership is elected, adopting the Independence of the Catalan Countries as a political aim. As a result of the evolution and clarification of the political panorama, Terra Lliure (Free Land) rethinks its strategy giving up armed fight and promoting the entry in ERC of its members and of most of those that formed Catalunya Lliure (Free Catalonia).


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You will note that those who don't think the PP must support the government (or those who don't know) are under 15% of the population. This is the proportion of extreme right wing hard core in most European countries (as can be seen from election returns), and is the rock-bottom support that the Aznarist wing of the PP can expect in any event.

Interestingly, ETA support (measured by Batasuna's election results) is also about 15% in the Spanish Basque country.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 04:57:47 AM EST
Well, normal distribution, tails, etc. etc.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 05:55:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am taking this as additional evidence of two hypotheses of mine regarding this number between 10% and 15%:
  1. There is about 15% of extremists throughout Europe (this expresses itself in different ways appropriate to the local context)
  2. Extremist ideologies become political problems when about 15% of the population openly support them


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:12:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you dig us up the Basque-nationalist (Batasuna, PNV) share of the vote in recent elections for each province within the Basque Country?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 05:12:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I intend to do just that for my diary-in-progress on the Basque political spectrum.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 05:49:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo, I added some coloured maps to my newer diary on the political spectrum, based on the election data.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 10:22:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I live in San Sebastian (capital of the Guipuzcoa province). I'd agree that most people see the announcement as a positive thing but are understandably rather wary and are very much in "wait and see" mode.

Ironically, in the 3 Basque provinces an independence referendum would likely be very, very close.

I was just talking about this last night with a colleague but we thought just the opposite. What evidence is there that it might be close? I don't disagree that there are people who want independence, but our experience here doesn't lead us to believe that it would be widely supported.

It's clear that people would like to have Basque prisoners moved back to the Basque regions and to have the violence (on both sides) and extortion to end, but otherwise life is good and I wonder how many of them would really want to disrupt the status quo (other than ending the above things).

P.S. I've been away from the ETrib for many months and was brought back by this topic, and I'd like to thank ManfromMiddletown and Migeru (and I'm afraid I'm forgetting another diarist--sorry!) for their informative and interesting diaries. I generally only manage to look at El Diario Vasco and sometimes El País and they've not been nearly as interesting as the ETrib bunch!

by wheylona on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 07:19:31 AM EST
I was just talking about this last night with a colleague but we thought just the opposite. What evidence is there that it might be close? I don't disagree that there are people who want independence, but our experience here doesn't lead us to believe that it would be widely supported.

In April 2005, Insituto Opina ran a poll in which they found that in Guizpuzcoa more than 50% considered themselves either solely Basque, or more Basque than Spanish.

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Running from top to bottom on the left hand side the different choices were: Only Spanish, at 7.5%. More Spanish than Basque at 3.6%. As much Spanish as Basque, at 39%. More Basque than Spanish at 17.2%. And only Basque at 27.4%.

The results of an indepedence referendum would depend in large part on what you call it not the content of proposition. The greatest restraint here is not Madrid, but rather Barcelona.  If Basque know that they can have their own country and stay in the EU, they would likely favor something akin to commonwealth or associated state status, with the Vittoria running its own foreign policy, and with A Basque commissioner on the EC.  The adhesion of the 5 Lander of the former GDR shows that the EU allows for addition, the opposite propositon, subtraction, has never been tested. The time to test that might come soon.

So did you ever make it to the Casa de La Rioja, there in San Sebastian?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 10:25:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eskerrik asko, MfM, for the info/reference. One of my biggest frustrations living here is that the local people I come into contact with are not generally interested in talking about these topics, and so I feel like I don't have a very good sense of what people actually think/want. And the mainstream media don't help educate me much, either.

Sadly I have not yet made it to Casa de la Rioja, though I did make it to a sidreria. But it's definitely on my (very long) list of things to do. :-)

by wheylona on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 12:06:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of my biggest frustrations living here is that the local people I come into contact with are not generally interested in talking about these topics
Are you kidding? They're actually scared. The Basque country is the only place in Spain where one could argue the conditions for fully democratic elections are not met, because people are scared of talking about politics. And the ones being murdered for their politics have all been on one side for the last 20 years or so (since the end of GAL, and especially since ETA decided to target primarily elected politicians from PP and PSE).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:30:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The other regular poster on Spanish issues is Kcurie. His original "Breaking" diary was quoted in mine and then deleted.

What do you mean by "violence on the other side"?

have the violence (on both sides)

And, finally, it's good if you're back and active, because as you may have noticed we don't have anyone actually reporting from Spain on the ground, so if you would diary about your impression it would be greaatly appreciated. In Donosti you're in the epicentre of this.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, by the way, Cadena Ser is owned by Prisa, the same media group owning El Pais and Sogecable (Canal+). All of these media are (rightly) considered close to PSOE and, since 2004, pro-government.

Prisa's leader, Jesús de Polanco, is the Spanish version of Rupert Murdoch, only more benign and definitely not in league with him ideologically.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 03:52:26 PM EST
Once ETA asks for the release of imprisoned members and an independence referendum the poltical situation in Spain will change dramatically.
ETA is not going to ask for independence, the understanding is that that's Batasuna's position to defend in the Basque roundtable. By attributing this to ETA you're playing into the idea that Batasuna is actually part of ETA, which might or might not be true. It is in the interest of Batasuna/ETA to dispel any doubts in that direction.

ETA can ask for the release of its imprisoned members, but those "with blood on their hands" (con delitos de sangre: "with blood crimes" is the customary Spanish phrase, in case anyone wants to research this) will not be amnestied, although "in the new climate" judges may be more lenient when considering things like parole. Those who are in jail as accessories, or simply on "belonging to an armed gang" (pertenencia a banda armada) may hope for an amnesty, but that would be very controversial.

As for anything other than devolved autonomy (Federation, Confederation) it would require a Constitutional reform and is not likely.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 05:16:22 PM EST
A rose by any other name.  The may not call it indpendence, but ETA's statement makes clear that they expect a referendum on the statuts of the Basque country.  I think that there's a certian triumphalism to the ETA announcement.  People are behaving like ETA has surrendered, that's not what has happened, ETA is alive, it's just that they are taking a political path rather than a military one.

The return of Basque prisoners to the Basque country (Euskal Presoak, Euskal Herrira, even if not released is likely to be a subject for discussion, and contreversy.

I wouldn't discount the possiblity that Ibarratxe will try to rush through a referendum on greater autonomy in defiance of Madrid.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 07:16:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ibarretxe should know better than that, as Zapatero is in a position not unlike Suárez's during the "transition". The democratic opposition toned down their public rhetoric to prevent a backlash. The PP is like what used to be called "the bunker".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 05:53:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ibarretxe should know better?

Ja, ja, ja, ja, ja!

This is th same man who held firm when Aznar threatened to throw him in prison if he tried to hold a referendum.  And he refused to unseat Batasuna members in the Basque parliament.  If there ever was an independent Euzkadi, I imagine the bonhomie between the PNV and Batasuna would end quick, but now there's a common enemy.


And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 01:23:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The first thing Ibarretxe has done is postpone his "party roundtable" until after the summer. Meantime, just today Zapatero said this in an interview with El Pais:
P. Después de algunas contradicciones, Juan José Ibarretxe ha decidido al fin aplazar hasta después del verano la convocatoria de la mesa de partidos...

R. Los próximos días voy a hablar con el lehendakari. No creo que debamos tener unos plazos cerrados ni dar por certificada la metodología de las mesas, que en mi opinión está superada. Creo que la dinámica va a ser distinta. No me cabe ninguna duda de que en la medida en que el fin de la violencia se toque con las manos y que vaya acompañado por el compromiso de la izquierda abertzale con los métodos democráticos, eso producirá un nuevo escenario político, que deberá inspirarse en la búsqueda de un gran consenso de todas las fuerzas políticas para plantear el futuro político de Euskadi. Sólo con un gran consenso se podrá hacer que el nuevo escenario político que nazca del final de la violencia pueda dar futuro, estabilidad y convivencia.

Q. After some contradictions, Juan José Ibarretxe has decided in the end to postpone until after the summer the convening of a party round table...

A. In the next days I will speak with the lehendakari. I don't believe that we must have closed terms nor take the round table method as certified, which [methodology] is in my opinion superseded. I believe the dynamics are going to be different. I harbour no doubts that to the extent that the end of violence is at our fingertips and that it goes along with a commitment to democratic methods on the part of the abertzale [Basque patriotic] left, that will produce a new political scenario, which must be inspired by the search for a great consensus among all political forces to lay out the political future of Euskadi. Only with a great consensus can it be ensured that the new political scenario born out of the end of violence can give future, stability and convivality.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 01:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the things that amazes me about the Basque nationalist rhetoric is how they look up to Ireland as a model, while the Stormont agreement is a sorry excuse for self-rule compared with the current Basque statute.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 03:16:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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