Spain and the Basques: ETA Loses Its Voice

Will the Spanish parliament’s decision to ban the Basque political party Batasuna lead to it and its sister militant organisation ETA withering away? Or is it rather an attack on free speech, limiting the choices for voters?

The World Today Published 1 November 2002 Updated 23 October 2020 4 minute READ

Charles Powell

Senior Analyst, Real Institute Elcano, Madrid

In a democracy, the banning of a political party is never an uncontroversial event, particularly in a country with relatively recent experience of non-democratic rule. The fact that eighty eight percent of Spain’s MPs nevertheless decided to request the banning of Batasuna on August 26 reveals the seriousness of the political crisis afflicting the Basque country, and above all the determination of Prime Minister José María Aznar’s government to put an end to decades of impunity.

Predictably, the measure has been criticised on both legal and political grounds, but events since the banning suggest that the government’s decision was not as misguided as some had feared.

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