A third of Basques back home-rule referendum

26th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Around 36 percent of Basques support a controversial plan by regional premier Juan José Ibarretxe, of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), to hold a referendum on regional home-rule

26 March 2008

MADRID - Around 36 percent of Basques support a controversial plan by regional premier Juan José Ibarretxe, of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), to hold a referendum on regional home-rule, according to a survey commissioned by the Basque government. Around 17 percent of Basques rejected the notion of being asked to vote on the issue at all, while the rest of those asked did not have a clear opinion.

Support for the plan, which has been widely rejected in Madrid on grounds of unconstitutionality since Ibarretxe first proposed it in 2003, is mainly found among nationalists, especially supporters of the ruling PNV, as well as Eusko Alkartasuna and EB-Berdeak.

At last Sunday's Day of the Basque Homeland celebrations, Ibarretxe reiterated that he will go ahead with plans to hold the referendum, and that the central government must accept whatever result emerges from it. However, the current PNV leader, Iñigo Urkullu, has adopted a more conciliatory tone and said he will consider negotiating with Madrid, as long as steps are taken towards more Basque self-rule. The survey also showed that 28 percent of Basques want to break away from Spain, 27 percent reject independence and a third might agree to it - but depending on the conditions.

[Copyright El Pais 2008]

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