Eusko Alkartasuna

Politics of Spain
Political parties
Elections

Eusko Alkartasuna (English: Basque Solidarity, Spanish: Solidaridad Vasca, French: Solidarité basqueis) is a Basque nationalist political party operating in Spain and France. The Basque language name means Basque Solidarity and abbreviated as EA. The party describes itself as a Basque nationalist, democratic, popular, progressive and non-denominational party. Recently, the party adopted the subtitle "Euskal Sozialdemokrazia" ("Basque social democracy").

According to their statute, they are striving to achieve "full national and social freedom in and for the Basque Country". They support the creation of an independent Basque Country, but see it as achievable through the project of the European Union, as a union of peoples, a federation of nations, not states.

Its support in Basque politics has greatly diminished since it was created in 1986 as a schism of the PNV. Currently it holds one MP at the Basque regional parliament and some 20 mayors in the Basque Autonomous Community (where it has gone from 181,000 votes in the 1986 regional election down to 37,820 in 2009[1]) and four MPs in the Navarrese regional parliament elected as a part of the coalition Nafarroa Bai[2].

The youth wing of the party is the Young Patriots (Gazte Abertzaleak).

Contents


Origin

Even though the idea for a Basque national political party separate from both Herri Batasuna and the Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV, Basque: Euzko Alderdi-Jeltzalea, "Basque Nationalist Party") emerged in 1986, it was not until 1987 that the first congress of the party was held in Pamplona-Iruña in 1987. Carlos Garaikoetxea was then elected as the party's first president.

The split from the PNV was based on:

The split was particularly bitter given that the new party was headed by the lehendakari himself. Every local organization had to vote on whether to go to EA or remain in PNV. Many PNV political bars (batzoki, "meeting place") became alkartetxe ("mutual house"). Ramón Doral, an ertzain (Basque policeman) closely connected to PNV was convicted of wiretapping EA leaders for PNV.

Name

When dissident members of the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) reached the conclusion that they needed to form a new party, they talked about taking the name of Eusko Abertzaleak–Nacionalistas Vascos ("Basque Nationalists"), but that name had been registered by another group on 3 October. Deprived of that choice, EA founders presumably sought another name reminiscent of EAJ, and of the largest trade union of the Basque Country Eusko Langileen Alkartasuna. The name Eusko Alkartasuna was registered on 10 October.

The standard Basque for "solidarity" is elkartasun. Alkartasun is a Biscayne form. At the time of foundation, "EE" was used by Euskadiko Ezkerra; this alternative form of the word was used so as not to have two parties with the same initials.

Recent years and representation

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Basque Autonomous Community

In 1991, after the merger of Euskadiko Ezkerra with the PSOE, a small group of dissidents from that defunct party grouped under the name Euskal Ezkerra and went to join EA.

EA lost nearly 50% of its electoral support between 1986 and 1998 (from 15.84% to 8.69% in the Basque Autonomous Community[3] and from 7.1% to 4.56% in Navarre[4]). In 2009, EA obtained its worst to date results in this Autonomous Community (3.68% of the total votes) and only one MP at the regional Basque parliament (down from seven MPs in the previous election)[5]

With the schism produced after the 2009 elections (Hamaikabat), the role of EA in the Basque Autonomous Community has been greatly diminished[6], since most of the party members who left were in Guipuzcoa, which was the province that EA used to count as its stronghold.

Navarre

In Navarre, where Basque nationalism is minority, EA run in a coalition with the PNV in 1998 order to maximize the results of Basque nationalism in this Autonomous Community. Then in 2004 EA ceased to run regional elections by itself and went to form the coalition Nafarroa Bai (Navarre Yes) along PNV and other Basque nationalist parties (such as Aralar or Batzarre), who also dropped their own tickets to merge into Nafarroa Bai. Currently, 4 of the MPs of Nafarroa Bai at the Navarrese regional parliament are EA members, which makes this territory the most important for EA in terms of institutional representation.[7]

Relations with the PNV in the Basque Autonomous Community

By 1991, helped by the fact that both opposing characters Arzalluz and Garaikoetxea had gone into political retirement, time had eased the bitter split from the PNV and both parties agreed to form an electoral coalition in a number of regional and local elections as a means to maximize the nationalist votes, which eventually led them to present a joint list for the regional governments of the Basque Autonomous Community in 1998.

Thus, EA has participated since in several PNV-led Basque regional governments.

Still, this option was reverted when EA decided to run again by itself in the municipal elections of May 2007 taking 7% of the vote in the Basque community [8]. This decision was then confirmed when EA decided to also run by itself the 2009 regional elections in the Basque country, ten years after their first coalition with the PNV [9]. The party was split between those advocating for the breakup with the PNV and aiming at the independentist radical vote and those (especially the Guipuzcoa ranks) who would have preferred to keep the pact with the PNV. Eventually the election supposed a severe setback for EA, which obtained only one MP at the Basque regional parliament and its lowest support to date. Unai Ziarreta, then leader and proponent of parting ways with the PNV resigned as a result and EA started a period marked by internal unrest[10]

At the Spanish Parliament

In the Spanish general election, 2004, the party won one seat in the congress of the Spanish parliament, from the constituency of constituency of Guipuzcoa, with some 80,000 votes. Then, at the Spanish general election, 2008 EA failed to keep their MP elected for Guipuzcoa at the Spanish parliament. Currently is only represented as a part of the Nafarroa Bai coalition, which has one MP, elected for Navarre.

European Parliament

EA called for a "No" vote on the European Constitution proposal in the referendums held in Spain and France in 2005.

Eusko Alkartasuna has coalesced with Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) for elections to European Parliament. EA's Mikel Irujo is MEP since July 2007 till July 2009 for the European Free Alliance.

2009 Schism

Following poor results in the latest Basque Autonomous Community elections, the party split amid bitter recriminations. The majority upheld the existing strategy of distancing the party from the PNV and a rapprochement with the left-wing pro-independence movement, but a critical current, consisting of around 35% of the party's members, who stand for a return to a milder brand of Basque nationalism and renewed ties with the PNV[11], announced their decision to leave EA and form a new party, Hamaikabat (a Basque language pun meaning variety and unity, brief H1!). Most of the members of the breakaway group were from the province of Gipuzkoa, hitherto considered EA's main stronghold.

References