The results of Sunday's local elections in Catalonia will likely
have most immediate impact in the independence-minded region and in
the halls of Madrid's central government. But their effects within
other Spanish communities that harbor hopes for independence may
prove just as profound.
Particularly in the Basque Country, where a 2008 push for a
national referendum on the region's political status was declared
unconstitutional by Spain's highest court, and where October
elections similarly saw voters hand a strong mandate to the region's
two separatist parties, many were looking to Catalonia for a tell on
how next to proceed.
For Basques it is very important what the Catalans are doing in
Catalonia a majority is wanting to take steps towards independence,
says Pello Urizar, a Basque parliament member from EH Bildu, the
conglomeration of left-leaning Basque separatist parties that last
month won the second-highest number of seats in the regional
parliament. We don't yet have as clear of a consensus.
Catalan voters delivered a mixed message on Sunday night, dealing
a heavy blow to Artur Mas, leader of Catalonia's ruling center-
right nationalist party CiU, who had hoped for an absolute majority
which would be a strong mandate for a referendum on Catalonian
independence. But while the results still clearly supported the
collection of political groups pushing for national independence
from Spain, the CiU underperformed as its pro-austerity economic
policies undercut its pro-independence efforts.
The Basque Country's pro-independence parties hope to learn from
the Catalonian election in order to better find a popular balance.
Both [Catalonians and Basques] are looking for the right to
decide our own future, despite our different histories, says Mr.
Urizar. The results in Catalonia reinforce the fact that the road to
independence can't be viewed just as social or just as economic.
Last month's election in the Basque Country saw a surge in
nationalism much like Sunday's record turnout for Catalan
nationalist parties, with strong support of separatists on both the
left and the right. In October, the center-right Basque Nationalist
Party (PNV) and EH Bildu together won over 60 percent of the seats
in the Basque Parliament, marking substantial gains for the Basque
Country's separatist left.
'The fundamental difference'
Catalonia and the Basque Country are two of Spain's wealthiest
communities, and since its financial collapse in 2008 both have been
particularly vocal about the effect austerity measures imposed by
Madrid on their economies. …