Basque Country activists: Scotland’s referendum was a force for peace and democracy 

Basque activists plan conference to learn from success of Scottish democracy 

CAMPAIGNERS IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY inspired by Scotland’s independence referendum are hoping to hold a conference to learn from the peaceful nature of the constitutional debate in Scotland. 

A new youth-led group called Together-Elkarrekin want to “build collaboration around the Scottish and Basque processes” as part of respective movements for independence and self-determination. 

Basque activist Angel Oiarbide told CommonSpace of how the wider Basque movements has benefited from visiting Scotland during the independence referendum, and how the model serves as an example for hopes of a binding, legal, and peaceful vote on independence in the Basque Country. 

“It was something that gave us a great deal of hope. It suddenly became something tangible. It was a real watershed moment, seeing Scotland have its referendum,” Oiarbide said.

“We’ve learnt a great deal from the example of Scotland. We’ve learnt that people can be valued when they take part. We don’t need violence. We don’t need conflict. All of this can take place in a peaceful way.”

“I hope that another Scottish referendum will also be felt by all of us, and that it can give us further momentum,” he concluded. 

Oiarbide’s experience, as part of the pro-independence movement Gure Esku Dago, provides proof that Scotland’s civic movement for independence had influenced others elsewhere in Europe where there remains a hangover from violent political conflict. 

The Basque Country, which was subjugated by General Franco’s far-right Spanish administration, suffered as a result of violence from separatist ETA forces and Spanish security services. 

Over one thousand people were killed in the violence, and tens of thousands more were arrested over half a century. ETA only officially declared a ceasefire in 2011, meaning that hopes of a peaceful transition to independence carries a significant resonance with campaigners and the public. 

Now campaigners are holding unofficial independence votes at a community level to involve the public in a discussion on the Basque Country’s future. 

Picture courtesy of Rober

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