Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Basque and Spanish Identity in a Changing Context

Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Basque and Spanish Identity in a Changing Context

Article excerpt

Subjective national identity has been a widely studied phenomenon, and presents several implications. Membership in a specific "imagined community" and the collective adhesion of the citizens to that community are related to many aspects: economic, cultural and political. In the case of the Basque Country, subjective national identity is normally studied and measured in relation to the Spanish one, as these identities are for some people conflicting, and for others, overlapping. The reallocation of political options and positions in the political spectrum in the Basque Country and Spain, due to the end of violence, among other elements, also has as a consequence a reallocation regarding the identity issue. The absence of violence and violent threats in the Basque Country has put institutions and political actors in a less confrontational situation. This article argues that the intensity of the confrontation and the subjective identity are independent elements and, as a consequence, the end of violence and the new scenario has no effect on the levels of collective Basque identity, and therefore, the levels of subjective identity remain unchanged or, at least, independent from the shifts in center-periphery relations. This article aims to present data on the levels of Basque/Spanish identity in the last years to measure how subjective national identity has evolved. We look at voting behavior, language skills, age, education level and specific attitudinal and value indicators as they correlate to subjective identity. Data and evidence on the evolution in the last decade will be provided to have a clear insight on the levels and grounds on which subjective identity in the Basque Country is supported.

Keywords: Basque Country; national identity; nationalism; political attitudes; voting behavior; political culture

This article addresses the issue of Basque identity in a new context of non-violent activity in the Basque Country, and analyzes whether this new context has reorganized self-identification in terms of identity in the region. The existence of nationalism in the Basque Country has been accompanied by a self-definition of the Basque population in terms of identity. Subjective Basque identity (in relation to the Spanish one) has been a widely studied phenomenon, which has several implications to address. Membership in a specific "imagined community" and the collective adhesion of the citizens to that community is related to many aspects: economic, cultural and political.

The Basque Country is currently experiencing an exceptional moment, in which the precarious status quo in the political arena has suddenly changed, with a reallocation of political options and positions in the political spectrum. This reallocation process is dynamic and progressive and has not finished yet, though it has started to be visible in the electoral campaigns and electoral behavior.

Another area of reallocation in the political arena is the issue of identity. The absence of violence and violent threat in the Basque Country has placed institutions and political actors in a less confrontational situation. It has been argued that one of the manifestations of the confrontational situation has traditionally been the intensity of the feeling of Basque identity in opposition to the Spanish identity. This article argues that the intensity of this confrontation and the subjective identity are independent from each other, and as a consequence, the end of violence and the new context will have no effect on the collective Basque identity. Therefore, the levels of subjective identity will remain unchanged or, at least, independent from shifts in center-periphery relations.

The article presents data on the levels of Basque/Spanish identity in the last years, using data from 1999, 2008, 2012 (European Values Study, Spanish Center for Sociological Research and own compilation) to measure trends in the evolution of the subjective identity measure. …

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