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Basque Nationhood

Towards a Democratic Scenario


Edited By Pedro Ibarra Güell and Åshild Kolås

Debates about Basque self-determination were curtailed for decades by political violence, involving both the actions of ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) and the counter-terrorism activities of Spain and France. In 2011, ETA announced a permanent cessation of operations. Since then, stakeholders have become increasingly aware of the need to rethink Basque nationhood and democratic representation in light of the changing nature of nationhood and citizenship within the European Union. These issues are also topical in the French Basque country, which has witnessed a re-emergence of Basque identity politics in recent years.
This book describes the contemporary re-imagining of Basque nationhood in both Spain and France. Taking a fresh look at the history of Basque nationalist movements, it explores the new debates that have emerged since the demise of non-state militancy. Alongside analysis of local transformations, it also describes the impact of global changes on ideas about Basque self-determination.
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Mateo Ballester – 5 Constitutional Patriotism and Constitutionalism in the Basque Country


← 150 | 151 → MATEO BALLESTER

5Constitutional Patriotism and Constitutionalism in the Basque Country

In November 1991, Jürgen Habermas spoke at a conference in Madrid, presenting his idea of ‘constitutional patriotism’ and its application to the European context.1 During the 1990s, the constitutional patriotism formula was adapted to the Spanish context. Within the public debate in Spain, this was something of a milestone. The proposal was to develop a new sentiment of collective attachment to Spain, based on identification with a political system symbolized by the 1978 Constitution. The key principles enshrined in the constitution are liberty and equality before the law of all citizens, regardless of their ethnic identity. The development of a patriotic sentiment based on these principles would, according to its supporters, put an end to the persistent nationalist tensions in Spain, particularly in the Basque country and Catalonia.

In the first years of the twenty-first century, constitutional patriotism was incorporated into the programmes of the two dominant political parties in Spain: the People’s Party (Partido Popular, PP) and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español, PSOE). This generated an intense debate among politicians, in the media, and in specialized academic publications. Although constitutional patriotism was often presented as a generic formula to resolve ethno-nationalist tensions in Spain, the chronology of events seems to indicate that it was specifically intended to be applied to the political situation in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (ACBC) at the time....

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