Basque ‘envy and joy’ at Scotland’s right to decide her future

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By a Newsnet reporter

In an interview with the news agency Efe, Itxaso Atutxa the president of the Basque National Party’s executive in Bizkaia/Viscaya, has spoken of the “spectacular envy” that many in the Basque Country felt on hearing the news that Scotland’s independence referendum is to go ahead on 18 September 2014.

Ms Atutxa said that the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy must “take note” of the events occurring in Scotland, and that the main Spanish unionist parties must “take a lesson” from it and permit a similar referendum in the Basque Country.

Speaking of the reaction of her party colleagues to the announcement by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond that Scotland’s referendum is to be held on 18 September 2014, Ms Atutxa said:

“It give us great joy and a spectacular envy to know that Scotland is going to be able to decide on what it does.  We don’t know what the decision will be, but their capacity to decide as a people has been recognised.”

Pointing out that the Scottish, Catalan and Basque demands are being carried out “with an absolutely democratic normality, without arms, with words, and simply allowing the people to decide, independently of what they may decide,”  Ms Atutxa called on the governing Spanish party the Partido Popular and the official opposition the PSOE to permit Catalonia and the Basque Country the right to hold similar referendums.

The Spanish constitution prohibits any part of the Spanish state from seeking self-determination.  Attempts by pro-independence Catalan parties to call a referendum on independence in Catalonia have met with a furious response from the Madrid government, which has said that it will take “all necessary steps” to prevent a democratic vote from taking place.

As in Catalonia, there are many in the Basque Country who favour independence for their country.  In the most recent opinion poll, published by the “unionist” El Mundo newspaper in December last year, 31.3% of Basques said they would vote for independence if a referendum were to be held,  45.6% would vote no, and 23% are either undecided or would not vote.  Other opinion polls have shown a higher percentage in favour of independence.  A majority of Basques desire increased autonomy for the Basque Country from Madrid.