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Basque Nationhood

Towards a Democratic Scenario


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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Iñigo Urrutia And Zelai Nikolas – 6 Legal Limits of Decentralization in Spain: Accommodation or Secession?



6Legal Limits of Decentralization in Spain: Accommodation or Secession?

When autonomous communities were established by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, the intent was to address demands for self-government through a system of political autonomy based on bilateral settlements adopted in the early 1980s. These settlements introduced Statutes of Autonomy that were protected by rigid institutional mechanisms.1 Since then, tensions between central and regional powers, inherent to any system of distribution of power, have been addressed by the distribution of competencies in which the Constitutional Court has acted as an arbitrator setting standards and criteria. Though often debatable, and much debated, these standards have enabled the system to progress (Viver and Martin 2013: 47).

The architecture of the autonomy system was not fully defined and finished in the 1978 Constitution. The constituent opted for an open constitutional model remitting the final result to what would be established by the Statute of Autonomy of each Autonomous Community. The Statute was thus confirmed as responsible for fulfilling the constitutional function (see Bayona Rocamora 2011). This scenario allows us to consider the Statute of Autonomy as complementary to the constitution.

During reforms of the Statutes of Autonomy of the so-called ‘historical nations’ of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (ACBC) and Catalonia, there were proposals to strengthen self-government and deepen decentralization by moving closer to a (con-)federal system in the case of the Basque Country, and...

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