|Ethnicity and Power in the Contemporary World (UNU, 1996, 298 pages)|
|12. Political autonomy and conflict resolution: The Basque case|
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.
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.