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close this bookEthnicity and Power in the Contemporary World (UNU, 1996, 298 pages)
close this folder12. Political autonomy and conflict resolution: The Basque case
View the document(introductory text...)
View the document1 Introduction
View the document2. Basque singularity
View the document3. The significant political problems
View the document4 The statute of autonomy
View the document5 Autonomic praxis
View the document6 Conclusion

3. The significant political problems

Setting aside the issue of violence, it would be appropriate to review briefly the main political problems which the Statute of Autonomy has attempted to address.

3.1 The right to self-determination

This represents the principal problem in that, to a great extent, it encompasses the remaining political problems. As Basque nationalism has historically held the attainment of independence as its final objective, this entails exercising the right to self-determination in one concrete sense of the term: the achievement of an independent Basque State.

In article 2 of the Constitution, the Autonomous Communities are granted ample autonomy, but the unity of Spain is considered to be indivisible. This implies the impossibility of territorial segregation. This is arguably the main obstacle to the disappearance of political violence and to the permanent normalization of the country.

3.2 Territoriality

This problem is closely linked to the previous one. It is manifested in two ways. Firstly, because the Basque Country includes territory in both Spain and France, Basque nationalism has aspired toward uniting the entire territory under one political power. The controversy, therefore, reaches beyond the concrete scope of the Spanish Constitution and into France.

The second territorial problem has to do with Navarre, one of the four provinces within the Basque territory in Spain. In Navarre, nationalism is very weak. At the time the Basque Statute of Autonomy was approved, the majority political forces in Navarre decided not to be included, choosing instead to constitute their own Autonomous Community. This situation is complicated further because the Navarrese decision was the fruit of a fully democratic agreement.

3.3 Language and culture

As has been previously pointed out, the defence of language and culture constitute one of the most significant aspects of the nationalist claim. The Statute establishes a very broad system of language and cultural development in education, public administration, and society in general. Nevertheless, important problems exist in carrying out and developing this system.

3.4 Financial autonomy

One of nationalism's demands has been for the maintenance of the traditional system of economic contract, consisting of the right of Basque institutions to exact taxes and agree with the state on the necessary contributions.

3.5 Police forces

This represents an historical problem which, under Franco, became extremely serious. Traditionally, Basque institutions had their own police forces, but during the dictatorship those forces were replaced by a repressive police organization which earned the hatred of practically the entire Basque society. The Statute of Autonomy sets down the guidelines for an autonomous Basque police force run by the Basque Administration.