西班牙的巴斯克省分裂
Independence? Let's have a vote

日期: 2002-10-07
出處:Economist

HERE'S an idea: let Spain's Basque region redefine its relationship with the central state in a “free association” under a shared sovereign. So the region's Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) premier, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, has now proposed—and a daft idea it is, says Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar: the deluded ranting of “a fanatic” which “runs absolutely counter to the constitution and jeopardises the achievements of the past 25 years.”

But Spain's constitution of 1978 and the special statute defining the extent of Basque autonomy are not static documents, argues Mr Ibarretxe. The region already has wide legislative and executive powers, notably in tax-raising. On September 27th he set out his vision of it as an independent country, with its own citizenship and foreign policy, linked to Spain as an equal and operating as its associate within the European Union. On top, Spain's Navarre region, which some Basques think part of their homeland, should be allowed, if it chose, to join the new state, which would also seek special relations with three (supposedly) Basque provinces in south-western France.

Mr Ibarretxe said the plan would be fleshed out over the next year, and then put to the region's voters—but only in “peaceful conditions”. This has led to speculation that ETA, the Basque-separatist terror group, may be planning a ceasefire. It called one in 1998, after agreeing with the PNV that both would work for independence. That ceasefire ended in late 1999 with no progress towards a lasting settlement. This time the PNV denies any contact with ETA, and the gunmen's political wing, Batasuna, has damned Mr Ibarretxe's plan. Even so, he hopes to draw the extremists in, presumably despite the present court-ordered suspension of Batasuna and its likely total ban.

Mr Ibarretxe spoke of putting his plan to the government and parliament in Madrid for negotiation. Whether or not it gets that far, he said, the referendum would go ahead. The two main national parties, Mr Aznar's People's Party and the Socialists, have denounced the idea. But it got murmurs of approval from the Catalan nationalists, who run their own region, and those of Galicia, in Spain's north-west.

And the PNV has a dream: let King Juan Carlos help to arrange a deal. The PNV says it would accept the Spanish monarch as its sovereign, sharing that role with a powerful Basque president. That reflects the king's role in entrenching democracy in Spain in the years after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. In public, the king has said only that he is committed to the constitution, which describes the country as indissoluble. In private, he may be the only person able to knock heads together in the gravest constitutional crisis Spain has faced since those days

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