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The Basque Political Spectrum

by Migeru 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 (2), Bilbao (4) and San Sebastián (10).
Earlier diaries on the issue:

Poll
What do you think is the final solution to the Basque question?
. Reverting to a centralised Spanish State 8%
. The current Autonomous Community status 8%
. A state within a federal Spain 66%
. A state within a confederal Spain 16%
. An associated free state 0%
. An independent state 0%
. An independent state including Navarra and the French Basque Country 0%

Votes: 12
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Basque self-determination? Let the fireworks begin!

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 03:50:36 AM EST
Do the local parties have particular quirks to their representation of "federal" and "confederal" concepts?

e.g. Is Switzerland a good analogy for the "federal" arrangements proposed? Do the confederalists look to an EU model, or something different?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 04:45:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO, our "Autonomous Community" system is federal in all except in name, and quite open-ended. The Basque country and Catalonia already have comparable powers to German Länder.

When I say "confederal" I mean a system where there is a common (figure)head of state, but the government in Madrid ranks equally with the Basque and Catalan presidents (and possibly with others).

"Associated Free State" is something that Ibarretxe has mentioned in connection with his "Plan Ibarretxe". I am not quite sure I understand what he means, as Puerto Rico has less powers than the 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 Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 10:29:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, then I have to guess that any solution will need confederal elements.

(I suspected the system was already virtually Federal.)

There's going to have to be some move towards confederalism, just to have some negotiating ground. It seems very unlikely to me that negotiations will succeed on the basis that "things are basically Federal, so we'll stick with that." Some concessions, however symbolic will be required, is my guess.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 10:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you underestimate the symbolic value of calling a spade a spade and making Spain an explicitly federal state.

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 10:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point!
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 11:38:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, there's no way in Hell the PP is going to accept a confederal solution. Not for another 30 years anyway.

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 12:01:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Basque country and Navarra are unique in that they have always had a far greater autonomy than the rest of Spain. The fueros of the Basque country and Navarra has developed into a protoconstitutionalism by the time that the Kingdom of Navarra was integrated into Crown of Aragon in 1512, the Kingdom of Navarra was a seperate unit in Spain until the 19th century.  Another thing that made the Basque country unique is that land tenureship in the region was diffuse leading to a far more bourgeoius attitude than in the rest of Spain. In Viscaya the local fuero made much of the population "nobles" and inherent in Carlism is the limited democracy of the fueros.  

As for the Ibarratxe Plan (text), it was expansive. Depending on how you read the document, it can be interpreted as  independence or as something akin to the level of autononmy of a US state. All in all, what the Basque government has proposed isn't that different from what the Basques had in Hapsburg Spain.  

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 12:35:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yikes, it seems I might actually have to read the Ibarretxe plan at some point...

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 01:22:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aqui hay el documento en Castellano.

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 01:28:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
let me point out that Navarra and Baque Country have slightly different autnomy.

More important. The tax and spend systems which are the more decentralized elements of the autonomous government are also different.

Formally Navarra has a associated free state status regarding taxes. It is very surprising, but it is bascially true. Navarra accepts freely to give some money to Madrid if they wish..and then you write a law to fix how. It is really amazing.

The basque country has a confederal system. Central Governmentmust ask the Basque government the money. But he Basque Country must give this money under the law. Generally they must reach an agreement.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 12:38:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or do you mean "Let the fireworks end". 'Cause there's been plenty of fireworks over the past 30 years.
by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 08:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're opening a whole new can of worms, now. We're likely to see some political fireworks.

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 08:11:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I still do not understand very well the origin of Basque people...and how much actually they have in common with other people of Spain (heritage etc.) I know language is not the same but hey they are not alone in this situation.Sorry I probably missed something you already wrote and am shamefully uninformed on the issue generally, I admit. Is this situation similar and to what extend with Kosovo?
Thinking about this problem (generally) I at some point come to the conclusion that (maybe) ALL the people everywhere around the world should have referendum and decide where they want to live and how. It would be nice if it isn't a fairytale cause not only that we wouldn't know where to start organizing those referendums on "self-determination" (today's borders of states and even of territories are far from being fair and realistic, anywhere) but mess that will occur will not be fixed for centuries...Practically ALL of the borders on the globe would need redefinition and this mean a lot of people would need to be moved simply cause they would not feel safe regardless of all guaranties ( because of the bloody past)...
Why I do not support Kosovo independence? Because I don't think any minority should have exclusive right on self determination .It is FOR ALL or for no one...
The other thing that makes me wonder what to think on this matter is that demographical and political and economical situation is changing during the time (we on the Balkan witnessed that so many times in history) so how often we should actually have those referendums on "self determination" even if we find a way how to make them fairly? Every 20 years? Or 40 years? Or...?
When I get furious I have an urge to say " Give them a bloody Kosovo and build highest wall in the world so that a single Albanian can't EVER again step on Serbian land"...But then again I am not stupid enough to see this as a way to solve this problem...Like great USA and Israeli politicians with their walls (Mexico and Palestine)...
The world is nowhere near cosmopolitan civilization...or peaceful one ...just opposite...nations fear the other nations will over number them and overrun them economically, culturally, military...in any may. Few months ago when there was discussion in Australian parliament about " morning after pill"  one of Howard's backbenchers (woman) publicly said that if we have a free "morning after pill" in this country Australia will be Islamic state in I don't know how many decades. Later she was pushed to apologize for this racist statement (that also made me furious) but what can I say, was she right? Probably yes...She did her job, gave a message to the white people and apologized as PM should in one democratic country...
21 century started in fear and I don't want to know where it will end (luckily I'll be dead, ha-ha but I am scared for my children and grandchildren).
I wouldn't know what to vote here...really...  


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 06:39:37 AM EST
The Basque were there before the Celt migrations. Nobody knows where their language comes from: it's so archaic it has 20 cases. Also, the genetic makeup of the Basque seems to be slightly different: the prevalence of negative Rh blood type is much higher than in the rest of Spain.

I suggest the Wikipedia article on the topic.

The Basque right wing is in many ways more Spanish than the Spaniards (more Catholic, more traditionalist). This is explained throgh their association with Carlism. PNV has no small number of skeletons in their closet regarding Carlist cooperation with Franco during the civil war.

The Spanish language originated near the Basque country, and it is theorised that some peculiar [with respect to other romanic languages] phonetic and grammatical features have their origin in Basque.

There is an Episode in Don Quixote in which him and Sancho meet a Biscayan. This is an invaluable peek into the atttitudes of Castilliand towards Basques around 1600. Cervantes makes fun of his accent, for instance.

Basque nationalism in its present form was invented by Sabino Arana in the late 19th century. IMHO there is no question that there is a distinct Basque people, but they have been part of Spain since the very beginning and not particularly "oppressed". I would blame the Bourbon kings and then Franco for the real or perceived grievances at the core of the current "Basque conflict", but that is a topic for my planned diary on the suppression of the Spanish nationalities.

Hope that helps.

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 07:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, by the way, the Industrial Revolution in Spain happened in the Basque Country. Bilbao is where the heavy industry (steel) developed. PNV represents the political  interests of Biscayan capitalists.

A lot of mainstream Catalan and Basque nationalism is related to the nationalism of other wealthy regions (like Northern Italy, for instance). ETA is different: it self-describes as socialist and has its roots in anti-fascist (anti-Franco) resistance.

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 07:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Industralization helped them recall the time when Catalonia controlled the mediterranean sea...Weird Stuff happens, isn't it?
A pleasure.

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude
by kcurie on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 12:40:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you...this was very informative...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 08:27:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fascinating Wiki article - I filled in a gap in my knowledge tonight... thanks!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 06:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The poll and the comments are all in italic, and the left part of the comments are blank... (using opera on linux). It is only this diary so I suspect something is wrong in the html.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 12:09:33 PM EST
Missing an </em> tag, thanks. Corrected now.

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 12:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And now it looks fine.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 01:49:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anything to say about the content?

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 02:21:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was interesting.

Since I knew very little on Basque politics I can only thank you for the information (also followed that link to Carlism, a concept previously unknown to me). I don't have so much to add, but it is always good to get a picture of a situation from someone who is actually close to the place and people involved. You know, like foreign correspondants might have worked some time long long ago.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 08:03:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Carlism a "concept"? It's more of a "reflex", if you ask me. But I'm not a neutral observer.

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 08:07:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru, I didn't yet comment on your nice graphs because I followed your link and tried to get the underlying data - but either the site is crap or my connection to it, so I failed so far...

What I am really curious about is where PNV, EA, EHAK and Aralar together make up a majority, and where (if at all) Spanish-national parties do the same.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 04:18:40 AM EST
Right now they do, but narrow. Though it varies regionally.

Let me give you the data here:


Basque country: 1.223.634 votes, 575.889 abstentions

PNV/EA 38.67%
PSE    22.68%
PP     17.40%
EHAK   12.44%
EB      5.37%
Aralar  2.33%
UA      0.34%

And, by province,

Alava: 171.492 votes, 76.156 abstentions

PNV/EA 30.67%
PP     25.95%
PSE    25.49%
EHAK    8.37%
EB      4.96%
UA      2.22%
Aralar  1.50%

Vizcaya: 659.366 votes, 311.609 abstentions

PNV/EA 40.97%
PSE    23.37%
PP     17.61%
EHAK   10.06%
EB      5.55%
Aralar  1.57%

Guipúzcoa: 392.776 votes, 188.124 abstentions

PNV/EA 38.30%
PSE    20.29%
EHAK   18.22%
PP     13.32%
EB      5.24%
Aralar  3.96%

Note that in the regional parliament each province gets 25 seats, despite the population differences (Alava is overrepresented)

Finally, the provincial capitals:

Bilbao: 198.745 votes, 94.548 abstentions

PNV/EA 35.96%
PSE    24.80%
PP     23.70%
EHAK    7.35%
EB      5.94%
Aralar  1.32%

San Sebastián: 130.759 votes, 62.058 abstentions

PNV/EA 32.06%
PSE    23.61%
PP     19.48%
EHAK   15.27%
EB      5.60%
Aralar  3.35%

Vitoria: 126.491 votes, 56.835 abstentions

PSE    28.71%
PP     28.17%
PNV/EA 25.96%
EHAK    6.95%
EB      5.33%
UA      2.54%
Aralar  1.40%

Yes, the website is crap.

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 04:42:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this data. I didn't really get the maps (but that may have to do with putting the clock forward...)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 05:03:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's not to get? I basically set the RGB colour (plus Black) using the vote percentages. The greener the more nationalist, and the purpler the more "constitutionalist".

I spend too much time playing with the Gimp.

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 05:14:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What was to get was what you just explained! (but the clock had something to do with it too...)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 05:28:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this. So the smallest province Alava, its capital Vitoria, and Vizcaya's capital Bilbao have a non-Basque-nationalist majority. I am surprised EHAK (Batasuna) is this strong in San Sebastián, not that much below the privincial average.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 10:38:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque country, and Vitoria is the seat of the regional government.

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 10:42:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having looked at the maps again with the new information on scale, is my impression right that counties (1) and (3) in Alava have a nationalist majority, too?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 10:43:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...and, BTW, maybe you wrote about this months ago and that's what I faintly remember, but is that non-Basque-majority area enclosed by Alava demanded by Basque nationalists?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 10:45:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, that.

This is an enclave of the province of Burgos within Alava, and it's called Condado de Treviño It is not so much demanded by the nationalists as wishing, by itself, to be incorporated to Alava because it is several hours away from the city of Burgos but right next to Vitoria.

It would make a whole lot of sense for them to switch, but the last time they tried the PP national and regional (in Castilla-León) government would not allow them to hold a referendum on the issue, and also it would probably bring even more non-Basque nationalists into Alava (though I'd have to substantiate this with election or poll 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 Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 10:50:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but Vitoria has over 2/3 of the population of the province.

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 10:46:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about region (6) and (8) (Irún?) - those seem more rural (or at least (6)) with a Basque-nationalist minority.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 11:05:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those have razor-thin nationalist minorities.

By the way, as EB is a local branch of a "national" party I am assuming it would not advocate independence, but it is currently in coalition with PNV/EA in the Basque government. From the point of view of National politics, this is the "looney left" aspect of the united left.

What this means is that the "median" falls on EB more often than on the 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 Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 11:11:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I added some ranges to the diary. The idea is to use the colour gradations to get an idea of the relative strengths of the two sides. Any referendum opposed by the PSE would likely fail in (7) and (2) on the map by quite a wide margin, as well as failing in the province of Alava as a whole. Bilbao (4) would be a toss-up.

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 05:05:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't get me wrong but in my opinion confederation is only step to independence and is rarely genuinely wanted...Remind me of some successful confederations of today...Switzerland comes to mind (?) and that's about it!

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 06:17:06 AM EST
Part of the point is to avoid the big words. We have a federal system but we call it "Autonomy". A confederation is actually a workable system for a multi-national state and it avoids the word "independence".

And who says that things need to be frozen? Federation is only one step away from Confederation. Like I said elsewhere in the thread, it's taken 30 years for the Spanish right wing to be comfortable with the "Autonomous Regions" to the point that they now defend the system as sacrosanct even though they didn't like it in 1978, and decri that the PSOE want to "break up Spain. Give the Basque question a Federal solution (for now) and it will take 30 years for the Spanish right to feel at home in it, when it will be time for confederation, or even a dissolution into a European entity.

The centre of the Basque spectrum is on the moderate edge of PNV, so if PSE and PNV can strike a deal that will be it, just like in 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 Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 06:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Confederation is an interesting concept for Spain, all with the same figurehead King but recovering some of the old kingdoms as confederate states. I'm not quite sure how it would work, but having over 800 people killed over symbols in 40 years is a worse solution.

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 06:27:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it wasn't over symbols (all though people may feel like it was) it's about power...and money...and who's going to have both...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 08:58:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A key difference between the Basque and Northern Irish situation: there is only one armed group in the Basque situation, on only one side. You don't have the three-way war of the later Troubles.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 11:00:16 AM EST
Before about 1986, there were right-wing Spanish-nationalist paramilitary groups (Batallon Vasco Español, GAL). There was also a Basque nationalist group in the French Basque country, Iparretarrak (the Northern people), but it was very, very weak.

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 11:03:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wonderful!!

great diary. The data about past electins is really interesting.

I have only one comment.

We should state what the present Autonomous organization looks like from a federalist, confederalist or free state perpective.

In general terms the Autonomous structure is a mixture of descentralization, federalism and confederalism depending on the subject.

On justice and social security we hace a centralized system.

On education is almost a federalist structure but not completely. Central ogvernment can control directly most of what each CC.AA (Comunidad Autonoma "equivalent of lander").

The same kind of almost federalist structure is also present in different areas like iinfrestructure, environment..

On health-care we have a federalist system

Another set of subjects is completely federal, some of them close to confederal: Agriculture, fishing, tourism,....

And finally, the most imortant one :collection of taxes and spending. We have a mixed system depending on the region

Navarra. It has a tax system of an independent free-associated state

Basque COuntry: It has a confederal system. Basque Country takes all the taxes and decides with Madrid how much money should it give to Madrid

Rest of the country: Federal system except for the organization that collects taxes. Different taxes go to the central government or to the CCAA with different ratios. Most of the taxes are collected by the central government. Taxes that go directly to the CCAA are collected by the CCAA but with no organization structure depending also on MAdrid. The new Statute of Catalonia foresees a purely federalist system for catalonia that Zapatero says shouold be extended to the rest of Spain.

From this perspective you can imagine that the different combinations for the future of Spain are really really huge.

I would prefer an integral federal system, eliminating the confederal system everywhere (yes a catalan can defend this) and elimiante the centralized elements...but that's me.. only one.. and we are a bunch of millions. And nobody would agree with me.

A pleasure


I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 12:33:40 PM EST
Thank you, Migeru. I agree with the others: this is quite a useful post. So is the discussion. You guys motivated me to do some reading: i was unfamiliar with the topic. (But i get exciting feedback about Spain from a Bulgarian friend who's studying there. She's fascinated with the architecture. But i haven't heard a word about Spanish men:)))

Vbo's comments made me wonder what effect the resolution of the Basque Country's national question will have on the status of Kosovo. Is it simplistic to say that if the Basque Country gains independence, Kosovo is more likely to gain independence? Of course, the two situations are different, but they share similarities as well, so...

I'm also curious how the resolution of the issue will affect the EU. Is a possible independence going to make things more difficult for it, in terms of distributing resources and negotiating? The union is already suffering from enlargement fatigue and trying to cope with the ailing economies of the member states. And Bulgaria and Romania are expected to join in a year.

by Brownie on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 07:40:05 PM EST
All this angst about how everything is going to affect Bulgaria's accession... Chill out!

Talks on Kosovo's final status are taking place as we speak, whereas in the Basque case we don't even have a statement from the Spanish government that they have verified the ceasefire [Zapatero said that "naturally there are ways" in which his Government can know these things]. Give it a full election cycle (2009) before things really start rolling.

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 04:05:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no, i about Bulgaria i meant: how our accession will affect the EU, not vice versa.

Then maybe the outcome of the Kosovo talks will affect the outcome of the Basque question.

by Brownie on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:37:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe we in Spain will look down on Kosovo and their uncivilised way of going about things [as befits a Western nation looking at a Balkan one], conveniently forgetting about our Carlism, Civil War, Franco, ETA, GAL...

Really, the Basque country looks up to Ireland, and that's it.

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:45:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know you're talking about a stereotype. But we can really argue if nationalism and the violence it brings can come in a pretty and clean shape. The Balkans are not inhabited by some crazy people thirsty for blood. So Kosovars and Serbs ARE being uncivilized, but so is any group more nationalistic than it should be. And i realize you were referring to a stereotype.:)))
by Brownie on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:54:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I personally think nationalism is a scourge, but it does come in less virulent, even "pretty clean", strains.

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:56:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it does, when there's the right amount of it and when it doesn't come with unrealistic ambitions and stereotyping. If you go overboard, you get the mess. Going overboard is when you cannot accept that what you feel in your heart is wrong. And of course i'm generalizing here.
by Brownie on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 09:08:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no, i about Bulgaria i meant: how our accession will affect the EU, not vice versa.

Then maybe the outcome of the Kosovo talks will affect the outcome of the Basque question.

by Brownie on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:37:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me give a more relevant answer to this:
Vbo's comments made me wonder what effect the resolution of the Basque Country's national question will have on the status of Kosovo.
In 1936, the Second Spanish Republic had enacted an Autonomy Statute for Catalonia, was in the process of approving one for the Basque Country, and was drafting one for Galicia. Then the Republic was overthrown, the Nazis bombed Gernika, the symbolic centre of Basque identity, Alava and Navarra sided with the Fascists while Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa sided with the Republic, Franco declared the latter two "traitorous provinces", repressed them for 35+ years, in the 1960's we got ETA as a result, then the Basque got an Autonomy Statute in 1979 and a regional government in 1980, we had state terrorism until 1986, and 20 years later ETA declared a truce.

How is that as a model for Kosovo? Ready to wait another 60 years to see the beginning of the end of the conflict?

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 05:12:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are very naive if you think that independence of Kosovo will end conflict...very very naive...
It may fall a sleep for some time but no way it will end anything...you can bet on it! Kosovo and Albanian irredentism is here to stay...There are other victims (Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro...)You haven't seen nothing yet!


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:25:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which part of Ready to wait another 60 years to see the beginning of the end of the conflict? makes me "naive" and thinking that Kosovo independence is an end to the conflict?

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:35:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, vbo, your prediction sounds scary. But true, Macedonia was on the verge of civil war. Was it in 1996? But why Greece and Montenegro?
by Brownie on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:50:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because there is also significant number of Albanians in those countries and their goal is to put them all together...It's nowhere near the end. Mark my words!

Something interesting here:

http://www.macedonian-heritage.gr/Opinion/comm_20010205Lygeros.html
Albanian nationalists have never renounced the vision of a "Greater Albania", even though Tirana avoids lending it official support. The West's military intervention and the de facto secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia have added an aggressiveness to the perspective of the Albanians, who believe it is time to lay claim to as much as possible. American favor allowed the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to start a rebellion against the Serbs, which gave NATO the opportunity to intervene.

...Sorry I didn't want to highjack your topic

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 09:09:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and I have said before that if the Basque Country (or Catalonia) gained independence the joke would be on France. You'd see territorial claims on the French Basque Country (and the Rosillon).

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:54:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't referring to the similarities between Kosovo and the Basque Country, but rather to a spill-over effect. Something like the way the French Revolution inspired other revolutions in Europe. Or how the Rose Revolution inspired the Orange one. But i realize the latter case is a result to a great degree of many similarities between the countries compared.
by Brownie on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:46:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some would say the Rose and Orange revolutions were both CIA-inspired, or Soros-inspired, depending on their particular brand of kitchen foil.

I don't see any spillover effects. Even if the actors in the Basque process have drawn inspiration from the Ulster process leading to Stormont, the similarities end there. Especially because the Stormont agreement pales in comparison with the current (and much vilified by the Nationalist) Basque Autonomy Statute, including the ability of the Central Government in London to suspend the Northern Ireland parliament and government, which would be unthinkable in Spain already.

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:53:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quote:
How is that as a model for Kosovo? Ready to wait another 60 years to see the beginning of the end of the conflict?
---
I (assume wrongly) thought that you implied that Balkan is lucky because of the fact that Kosovo status is on the table now so they don't need to wait 60 years to end a conflict like Basque country? Sorry...I may misunderstood...my English...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 09:21:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean you just had your civil war, which lasted twice as long as ours. We're about 65 years after the end of our civil war, so maybe the former Yugoslavia will be ready for a peaceful solution in, say, 2135?

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 09:24:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This diary has outlived its usefulness as filler for the front page...

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 Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 12:04:49 PM EST


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