Euskal Herria:

Politics


More general information about the Basques and the Basque language in other page. Here, there is information about Basque poltics. Placenames are displayed at another page.
 
You can find all basque place names in another Geocities site: http://www.reocities.com/CollegePark/5062/topo2.html
 
 

Euskal informazioa ingelesez dago hemen, erdaldunei begira pentsatua baitago. Hiru ataletan dago banatua: 1. Toponimo zerrenda laburrak (orri honetan). 2. Informazio orokorra hemen. 3. Azalpenak politikaz. Euskal Herriko toponimo izendegia osoa (4.500 izen), beste gune batean dago: Euskal Herriko toponimo izendegia..

 


(previous points on page basque.html)


6. Basque politics

Basque politics are not an easy question to deal, understand or explain. The foreigner may know, more or less, than an independentist radical group, ETA, wages war against the Spanish government through terrorist attacks.

Under the surface of that topical and simple image, a complicated situation lies. We wil, try to explain a little.

It must taken in mind that Basque politics and Basque society are cut by strong dividing socio-politic lines. Here are the most obvious dividing lines, and the "axis" in which they are based:

We may also add another dividing line:


Maps and Nation

The first Axis is the most obvious. Politics, life, social situation, everything, are completely different in the Northern Basque Country compared to the Southern Basque Country. Basque who live under Spain and France have different political options, and the socio-political maps imposed by this situation are totally different. Under the jacobine centralist French State, there is not basque autonomy at all, the language has no officiality and is to seriously endangered, and basque apparteinance feelings and nationalism have been wiped out by France.

In the Southern Basque Country, Francoist dictature was hard but it developed a strong resistence feeling absent in the Northern side. After constitutional formal democracy was stablished in Spain, some autonomy powers have been granted to Basques, but not to all of them (Nafarroa / EAE division), and with results that are bound to discussion. The basque question remains unresolved for many and the main result of this is the endless armed conflict, in contrast with isolated bombing in the North.

The main parties in Northern Basque Country are the french RPR, its ally the UDF, and socialist PS. The strongest of all is the rightist RPR, the party of Mr. Chirac. Those forces are all in the Statalist side of the 2nd Axis: there seems to be no option for de-centralisation or any recognition of Basque cultural and language rights with these groups.

The other side, the abertzale or nationalist forces are almost marginal in the Northern BC.

In the Southern BC, there is a bunch of parties. In the Basque Autonomous Community, the PNV, Basque moderate nationalist party is usually the most voted and controls, sometimes through coalitions, most local institutions. The moderate nationalist side is filled with Eusko Alkartasuna (EA) a splitting section from PNV. Then we have Herri Batasuna (HB), sort of Basque Sinn Fein that supports the armed actions of ETA, and that now appears under the name Euskal Herritarrok (EH). These are nationalist groups.

In the other side of the national axis, we have also the Spanish national parties, PSOE and PP which are present in Basque politics. A regional right-wing ally of PP rules in Navarre (UPN). There are other regional pro-Spain parties: UA in Araba (its main purpose seems to be attacking the Basque language), and CDN a moderate party exclusive of Navarre.


Violence

If we look at the 3rd axis, that marked by political violence. Pro-armed struggle / anti-violent axis.

First, we have the armed organisations: ETA has fighted violently against the Spanish State. Kidnaps, bombs against property, killings... At a time they focused personal actions againts armed Spanish policemen or military, but the targets wer expanded over the last years to include politicians and businessmen that do not pay ransoms.

In the Northern BC we have also Iparretarrak (IK), which only attacks property, not people. Their main targets are ultimately tourism interests, as they contribute to Frenchizise the Basque Country.

Armed actions are absolutely condemned by all parties in the Southern BC, except HB. Constant calls for isolation HB and anything near to HB are heard once and again. In Spain, condemnation of violence many times is mixed with a demonization of all things Basque.

Since September 1998, ETA has declared an unconditional ceasefire, which has lead to more unity among nationalist parties (a wide accord called the "Lizarra-Garazi agreement"), and more radical position among Spanish parties. Most expect that truce will lead to definitive peace, but the outcome of the process is doubtful at this moment.

Between the radical stances, there is a group called Elkarri, which tries to condemn all excesses and violence. It is doubtful that they have had any success...

In the Northern BC, actions of IK are viewed in different ways by the little nationalist forces. IK is also in a state of "ceasefire" lately. For the pro-French, they are just plain terrorists.


Language

And then there is the language axis.

Through centuries of language suppresion policies, the Basque-speaking have become a minority in their own land (see figures). Politically speaking, in terms of parties and so on, they are even less than that.

There are no basque-speaking parties in the BC. All are Spanish or French speaking, some exclusively, and some giving more or less space to Basque language.

The nationalists are obviously more kind towards language rights and so on, but there are differences. By chance, groups that support violence seem to be the ones who support the language, and that does not make things easy, actually. At the same time, pro-Spanish forces are turning more and more radical (almost racist) against Basque language lately.

Still, we believe that the survival of Basque culture and the Basque nations is linked to the language. The violence issue is the hardest point of the Basque conflict, surely, but the key political issue is the language. Being independent, autonomous or not, as long as the language is alive, there will be a Basque Country. Not otherwise.

There is a whole movement working for the language, claiming for legal and political actions, working in cultural and social initiatives. There is also something like an official disdain and fierce opposition from pro-Spanish and pro-French sectors towards that movement. This very site, GeoNative, has received hate-mail from Spaniards (look here), and that shows what kind of appreciation a linguistic minority gets in Spain.

That is the true political issue at stake. The right of that Basque-speaking minority, the true native minority round here, to keep its roots and its culture in their own land, Euskal Herria, the nation of Euskara.


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