New Basque separatist party enters Spain parliament: poll

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A new Basque separatist party, Amaiur, will enter Spain's parliament after winning at least six seats in elections Sunday, said an exit poll by public broadcaster RTVE.

Amaiur, a coalition of left-wing Basque parties, seeks Basque independence by political means after armed separatists ETA announced on October 20 the end of a 40-year campaign of violence blamed for 829 deaths.

The new coalition includes members of former political movement Batasuna, banned in 2003 because of supposed links with ETA, which is listed as a terrorist group by the European Union and United States.

Amaiur won 3.05 percent of the national vote, enough to deliver six or seven seats, the exit poll predicted.

That would be enough to form a parliamentary group with the authority to present amendments to proposed legislation.

The leftist Basque separatist parties, which reject violence, had not been represented in the lower house Congress of Deputies since 1996, when two members were elected before boycotting debates.

The Basque leftist parties had ramped up pressure on ETA over the past year to abandon the armed struggle and hand over the fight to politicians.

ETA, weakened after years of arrests of its senior leaders, has not committed an attack on Spanish territory since August 2009.

© 2011 AFP

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