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Sunday, October 25, 2009

30 years of Western Basque "autonomy": empty celebrations and demands of self-determination

The statute of autonomy that grants to the Western Basque regions certain self-rule within Spain, is now 30 years old. After more than a decade of such "birthdays" not being celebrated at all, the new undemocratic government of López has resuscitated the day but getting nearly no audience.

The pro-Spanish parties, that rule without popular support, thanks to judicial manipulation of the electoral scenery, have been the only ones to join the official events. Even the "open doors" day at Ajuria Enea, the residence of the Lehendakari (President), has only raised the interest of a few hundred individuals.

The largest Basque political formation, the conservative Basque Nationalist Party, declined again to participate in the calculated choreographies of the unionists and has instead asked again for the fulfillment of the statute in its integrity, something they have been demanding since the 1980s. The extremely "moderate" (pro-Spanish) speaker of this party, I. Urkullu, called instead for "a pact built on a new model of relationship, as is defined by the New Political Statute [Ibarretxe Plan] approved by the [Western] Basque Parliament", law that included the right of self-determination for Basques and that was blocked at the Spanish parliament without any second thoughts.

The PM by Eusko Alkartasuna (Basque Solidarity, center-left), J.M. Larrazabal, stated that the statute is impossible to recycle, as it is such a "disfigurated and deteriorated" legal frame cannot be revived. He asked for a wholly new legal and political structure that includes the right to self-determination.

The so-called Gernika Statute was approved in 1978-79 and was only half-way to the huge self-rule that Basque provinces enjoyed before the Carlist Wars and id not acknowledge the right of Basques to self-determination. For these reasons, more than 40% of Western Basques chose abstention in the referendum of 1979. Additionally many of its capacities have never been fully implemented, as the Spanish government has made an issue of retaining such competences. In many cases the Basque Government had to act unilaterally in order to partially transfer such attributions.

Nowadays only the unionists support it, as even the most moderate of Basque nationalist formations is demanding to move over into a new more democratic frame, truly representative of Basque collective will. The more or less legal fraud in the latest elections, putting a unionist proconsul in Ajuria Enea, clearly against popular will, has only aggravated the "constituional crisis" that the Basque Country is going through.

Source: Gara.

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