Spain goes to court against Basque "secessionist" vote

15th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Spanish government lodges a complaint at the Constitutional Court to block Basque vote on self-determination.

15 July 2008

MADRID - The Spanish government Tuesday lodged a complaint at the Constitutional Court in an attempt to block a referendum-style vote on the self-determination of the northern Basque region.

The government took legal action immediately after the Basque authorities published a law allowing for the regional vote to take place on 25 October.

The Basque parliament had approved the law on 27 June.

Basque regional Prime Minister Juan Jose Ibarretxe believes the vote would help to solve Spain's four-decade conflict with the violent separatist group ETA, but Madrid sees the vote as secessionist.

The "illegal referendum" would not take place, Deputy Prime Minister Teresa Fernandez de la Vega vowed.

Ibarretxe described the government's legal move as a "direct attack against our autonomy," calling on the Constitutional Court to take an independent decision.

The legal complaint will prompt the court to suspend the vote plan for at least five months.

Only the state had the authority to stage popular votes, and the Basque vote would violate "the constitutional spirit of unity and national sovereignty," the government argued in the complaint.

The vote would ask the Basques whether they would like to see a negotiated end to the conflict with ETA and party talks on the right of the region to decide its own future.

Ibarretxe believes an open discussion about options including independence would help to solve the problem of ETA, which has killed more than 820 people in its campaign for a Basque Country comprising parts of what is now northern Spain and southern France.

Justice Minister Mariano Fernandez Bermejo expressed confidence that the legal move at the Constitutional Court would persuade Ibarretxe to abandon his plan.

If that did not happen, the state would use "all the legal possibilities" to prevent the vote, he added.

[dpa / Expatica]

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