News, January '04

Display by keyword:

News theme: Basque politics and ETA

During July and August (2003) many of us were concerned by the numerous attacks by ETA terrorists, for foreigners and Spaniards at large,most notably the hotel bombings in Alicante and Benidorm. In early December, four of the band's top military leaders were arrested in France, thwarting an imediate pre-Christmas campaign of murders and possibly limiting ETA for the future. However, while concern will remain about the threat of ETA attacks, political interest is now mostly directed at the regional president's proposals for extending autonomy to become a 'free associated state', rather like Puerto Rico.

Basque regional president Ibarretxe made outline proposals during July and the firm proposal came in September, to be passed by the Basque parliament in October. Reactions from the Spanish 'constitutionalist' parties, conservative Partido Popular (PP) and Socialist PSOE were varied. The PP, in government at present, is determined to maintain the status quo. They believe the regions have sufficient autonomy and that no more freedoms are necessary to allow everyone to feel the liberty demanded by 'extremists'. On the other hand the PSOE believes the time is ripe for a look into the Constitution to see what further decentralisation can be made, even if this requires adjustments to the Constitution itself. This 3-way argument is likely to be an important issue this month. Links to statements relating to the Ibarretxe Plan can be found on the comment page.

In December, a new law outlawing any referendum not approved by the central government was passed in the national parliament, but only with government party (PP) votes - this is to prevent the Basques from approving the new statute which could place the region effectively outside Spain

In January there has been little ETA activity, but much political activity relating to both the national elections (due 14th March) and the upcoming regional elections. A new PNV president has taken over. This is Jon Josu Imaz. He has in his first statements opened the way to dialogue with other parties. This is an essential for progress in the region, but serious dialogue may be impossible before the round of elections is past. More about the Basque question and background:
More recent news from the Basque Country can be found in the news archives: