The elections to the Parliament of the Basque territories of Araba (without Trebiño), Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa will be held on July 12. Taking advantage of that important appointment with the ballot boxes, we want through this Editorial to make a series of requests to the political parties and coalitions of abertzales (Basque patriots).
The first request and the most important, is that in this electoral campaign they do not forget the Basque national agenda (the situation of our language, self-determination, Basque territorial unity, the needs of the Basque sports teams, demographics …). We do not minimise the importance of other social issues — far from it — (even less following the difficult crisis caused by the coronavirus) but we cannot fall into the trap that Spanish politicians set for us (“we are going to deal with issues that really concern citizens, and not with self-determination…. ”) and marginalize Basque national issues. As colonized peoples who lack sovereignty we would be following a suicidal strategy were we to ignore our situation; that is, were we to forget that we are nations in danger of disappearing. We know that the Spanish political parties in these Basque elections will repeat the same themes that they would if we were in Spain, ignoring our national reality; will the Basque nationalist political parties do the same?
We will detail the topics to which we refer by sections:
1.-) Basque language: It is time to take a qualitative leap regarding the normalization of the Basque language. The Linguistic Normalization Law of 1982 has become obsolete, as Basque society has undergone great transformations and our linguistic reality is not the same as it was almost 40 years ago. For this reason, a new Linguistic Normalization Law is urgently needed, a law that gives absolute priority to the use of the Basque language in, among other areas, Education and in Public Administration. A new law that has as its strategic objective, on the one hand, the social use of the Basque language and on the other, that knowledge of both official languages in the Western Basque Country be mandatory. And while that new law is on the way, to use Basque in all areas. For example: what law prohibits Basque parliamentarians from using the Basque language systematically and as a habitual language in the Basque Parliament?
About ETB (Basque Public Television): It is necessary to provide more resources for the Basque language channel of Basque Public Television and to make a firm commitment to that channel, improving its programming to increase its low audience. In both main television channels of ETB, more programs with content that reinforce Basque national identity should be introduced, since in many of their programs references to our own cultural are currently totally marginalized. And of the four current ETB channels, in three of them at least the Basque language should have absolute priority, the fourth being a television channel in Spanish but in which the Spanish-speaking public would also have access to Basque cultural content.
2.-) Self-determination: The Basque Parliament of the Western Basque Country twice proclaimed (in 1990 and 2014) and by an absolute majority, the Basque Country’s right to self-determination, but to date no one has proposed anything relevant to go beyond that symbolic proclamation, that is, to exercise the right to self-determination. In our opinion, it would be appreciated if in the next electoral campaign there were talk about self-determination and independence, rather than doing that only on Aberri Eguna (Basque Homeland Day). There we have the examples of Scotland and Quebec. In 1994, the Quebecois Party undertook an electoral campaign to organize a self-determination referendum, and after winning the elections, it organized said referendum. The SNP did the same in 2011 in Scotland: it promised that if it got into Government, it would organize a referendum on self-determination. The SNP achieved an absolute majority with that electoral promise and a self-determination referendum was organized in Scotland in 2014.
Will someone propose that if they achieve an absolute majority in the elections of July 12, steps will be taken to exercise the right to self-determination? Will the right that the Basque Parliament proclaimed twice be put into practice? The most skeptical will tell us that the Spanish State does not admit the right to self-determination, but its Constitution, through articles 10 and 96, allows it (see this link:: https://www.naziogintza.eus/en/the-lies-and-disobedience-of-the-imperialists/). On the other hand, as the UN (United Nations Organization) mentions in several of its treaties, self-determination is a universal right, which does not require authorization, since it is linked to human and peoples’ dignity and therefore ranks above any legal provision of the states. And in this pre-electoral environment we want to remind Basque nationalist political parties that despite the fact that the Canadian Constitution does not accept the right of self-determination, Quebec exercised it twice; as did also Catalonia, on October 1st 2017.
3.-) National sports teams: We request that the Government of the Western Basque Country take practical steps and guarantee its full support and assistance to sports groups and federations that want to compete internationally under the Euskal Herria brand. According to current communication models, the international presence of the Basque Country, knowledge about it and recognition, to a large extent, are linked to having its own sports teams.
4.-) Territorial unit: The Basque Government of Araba (without Trebiño), Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa must strengthen institutional relations with the rest of the territories of the Basque Country: with the Government of Navarra (Eastern Basque Country) and with the Communauté d’agglomération du Pays Basque (Northern Basque Country), and stimulate the formation of mixed institutions. And to channel the territorial conflict in Trebiño, since we often forget that we have a wounding territorial conflict within the Western Basque Country itself (without forgetting Villaverde de Turtzioz). We cannot forget that the majority of the inhabitants of these two enclaves wish to decide for themselves by means of a referendum their incorporation into the Western Basque Country.
5.-) Demography: firmly adopting demographic policies to overcome our low birth rate, helping young couples through social policies to have children (social housing, balancing of work and family life, decent wages, …). The demographic challenge is enormous, and the Basque nationalist political parties do not properly address this problem, in our opinion.
Basque nationalist political parties should also start to think about the Basque diaspora, about the Basques who keep our language and culture alive abroad, or those who are learning it, opening up the possibility of returning to the Basque Country
Along with that first request referring to the national agenda, we also make a second request to the abertzale (patriot) parties: since it seems that no political party will achieve an absolute majority in these elections and that therefore it will be necessary to make alliances and pacts, we clearly choose the option which according to the polls is preferred by Basque citizens: the alliance between the PNV (Basque Nationalist Party) and EH BILDU. An alliance between Basque parties, to confront the program of the Spanish unionist parties. For this reason, we would like the logical electoral competition not to seriously damage relations between the two aforementioned nationalist parties.
Finally, we ask PNV and EH BILDU to transmit their opinion on the requests we make of them in this letter. We believe that ignoring these requests would cause many Basque patriots and independence activists to feel like orphans politically. The formulas of the last 40 years are exhausted and lead us to frustration. We need exciting political proposals, a qualitative leap in Basque politics. It is time to make concrete commitments, with coherence and boldness, to provide content for the words “Basque Nation”.