1 May 2010

The Basque Country: The Long Walk to a Democratic Scenario

Transitions Series No. 7

The objective of the present study is to analyse the evolution of the conflict between the Spanish state and the Basque Country, from the creation of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA - Basque Country and Freedom) in 1958 to the present, from the point of view of the pro-independence forces. We will start with a quick overview of the origins of the conflict, before presenting the formation and development of the so-called “abertzale left” (Ezker Abertzalea) – which could be translated, and will be at times referred to here, as the patriotic left, nationalist left or pro-independence left. We will also look at the various phases of the search for a solution to the conflict through dialogue and negotiation. Although we will mention the relationship between the northern territories of the Basque Country and France as part of the historical analysis, we will not be studying the development of the nationalist and identity movement in the north. Instead, we will focus here on the conflict between the Spanish state and the Basque Country.


Urko Aiartza Azurtza, Julen Julen Zabalo


Véronique Dudouet, David Bloomfield


About this Publication Series

This case study is one of a series produced by participants in an ongoing Berghof research project on transitions from violence to peace. The project’s overall aim is to learn from the experience of those in resistance or liberation movements who have used violence in their struggle but have also engaged politically during the conflict and in any peace process. Recent experience around the world has demonstrated that reaching political settlement in protracted social conflict always eventually needs the involvement of such movements. Our aim here is to discover how, from a non-state perspective, such political development is handled, what is the relationship between political and military strategies and tactics, and to learn more about how such movements (often sweepingly and simplistically bundled under the label of non-state armed groups) contribute to the transformation of conflict and to peacemaking. We can then use that experiential knowledge (1) to offer support to other movements who might be considering such a shift of strategy, and (2) to help other actors (states and international) to understand more clearly how to engage meaningfully with such movements to bring about political progress and peaceful settlement.

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