|Abstract (english)|| |
In the last couple of years, the rise of secessionism in several democratic, Western European countries - from the United Kingdom (Scotland) and Belgium (Flanders) to Spain (Catalonia and the Basque Country) has been noted. All of them have something in common. In addition to having a heterogeneous ethnic structure, that is, the existence of distinct historical ethnic communities, all of these states have also, in the last couple of decades, gone through dramatic administrative and structural changes. From unitary states they had once been, they have transformed in a way which resulted in the introduction of either a certain degree of devolution or even in federalization. Consequently, historical ethnic communities have achieved a certain degree of autonomy, ranging from a partial and asymmetric decentralization (“devolution”) as in the case of Scotland, to an extensive autonomy of the so-called autonomous communities of Spain. The intention of the central state and the legislator has been, inter alia, to safeguard the state unity and strengthen the state by accommodating the grievances of ethnic communities and their elites.
The final outcome, however, has often been adverse to initial intentions. In the newly formed administrative units, “proto-states” of the ethnic minorities, there has been a rise in nationalism and secessionism. The purpose of this dissertation is to tackle this phenomenon and explore the causal relationship of autonomy and nationalism/secessionism. That is, the idea whether the autonomy itself strengthened nationalism and secessionism in the autonomous territories, thus acting as “subversive institutions” towards the central State, has been examined.
In order to test the hypothesis and the arguments of the theory of subversive institutions, a dual comparison of two cases, Spanish and French Basque Country, and the most similar systems design have been used. The most similar systems design holds that the two cases share many common features and differ in only one. For instance, French and Spanish Basque Country are situated in the same region, share common language and ethnic origins; they are both parts of wider nation-states, face situation of diglossia etc. A differing feature, in this case, autonomy in the Spanish Basque Country – Autonomous Community of the Basque Country –Euskadi, is held responsible for the different outcome (stronger peripheral nationalism and secessionism). The choice of these two cases has been prompted by the fact that they may be considered the most similar cases in extremis, given that it is the same people on the two sides of the state border.The Basques, minority group with their own language and culture, for centuries have been divided among Spain and France. In France of today the Basques enjoy neither status of a national minority nor an institutional autonomy. In Spain, however, after a difficult period of Franco’s dictatorship and the country's restructuring in 1978 on a quasi-federal principle, the Spanish Basques got acknowledgement of their national uniqueness (through a status of a nationality), and the Basque Country gained a significant institutional autonomy through so-called Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. In spite of the accommodation of most of the Spanish Basques’ grievances, both on a tangible level (economic, political and cultural) and on a symbolic level (national and state symbols), the Spanish Basque Country still faces secessionism, while that phenomenon is hardly visible in its French counterpart. The dissertation explores whether the autonomy, instead of accommodating the Spanish Basques in the framework of the Spanish State, has contributed to the growth of their nationalism and secessionism.
Conversely, the dissertation explores also whether the French civic state has contributed to attenuation of the peripheral, in this case, Basque nationalism. In France there are no “autonomic” institutions, but as a result of political and societal changes in France and external pressure from the South, i.e. from the Spanish Basque Country (spill over effect or Galton’s problem), a “new governance” with specially designed institutions has been developed to partially accommodate the Basque grievances. Deprived of any substantial competences, executive or financial, they are a pale shadow of their Spanish counterparts. However, precisely for that, they serve as a good example to make comparative research in order to show the immense difference the autonomy per se can make.
The research relies on the Valerie Bunce’ s theory of “subversive institutions”, which she tested on the cases of the former communist federations Soviet Union (USSR), Czechoslovakia (CSFR) and Yugoslavia (SFRY). Valerie Bunce (1999), explaining the collapse of former communist federations USSR, CSFR and SFRY, put forward a thesis that their design created preconditions for creating states within state. Consequently, the structure itself brought about the collapse of the communist bloc, and within it, of the federations USSR, CSFR and SFRY. Therefore, Bunce holds that the federalism created nations at the republican level or, if they had already been „defined“, the federalism strengthened them. In other words, federal structure where the autonomous/federal units enjoyed relatively wide autonomy, in the long term acted centrifugally and finally led to the collapse of states
(federations). With the advent of Gorbatchev and perestroika, consequent abandoning of the Brezhnev doctrine, and array of events that brought upon the collapse of communism and of federations, federal units – new „nations-in-the-making“, took advantage of the situation („window of opportunity“) and proclaimed their independence.Bunce's theory and arguments have been applied on the situation in Spain. In the second case of the French Basque Country, and especially in the following comparative analysis, the situation in Spain can be/ is compared with the situation in France. It is thus possible to test the hypothesis on subversive institutions and to note the differences produced by the existence of autonomy in Spain. Bunce’s theory has been tested on Spain (Spanish Basque Country) particularly for its quasi-federal structure of so-called autonomous communities (comunidades autónomas), or in Spanish jargon, Autonomías. Spanish autonomías provide a certain framework of a proto-state, nation-state, „state-in-waiting“, and strengthen the centrifugal forces and local nationalism in a way, maybe to a lesser extent, but similarly as former republics of the ex-socialist federations. There comes the idea to test the theory of subversive institutions on Spain, i.e. Spanish Basque Country.
In the introductory chapters of the dissertation, the phenomena of identity and nationalism have been tackled, followed by the theory of subversive institutions, as well as other supportive theories of the official nationalism (Anderson, 1990), path dependency (Krasner, 1984) and logic of appropriateness (March and Olsen, 2009). Finally, the three main arguments of the theory of subversive institutions have been elaborated, as well as the fourth, “counter argument”. The two case studies follow, of the Spanish and the French Basque Country, structured in the same or very similar way. Firstly, the phenomenon of the Basque identity, its formation and its specifics for each of the two cases, has been elaborated. Secondly, the relation of the State towards the Basques and their identity has been examined in more depth. Within that framework, process of state building and other “counter-subversive action” of the state, with the aim of diminishing the peripheral nationalism and secessionism, has been tackled. Separate chapters have been dedicated to the transition to autonomy in the Spanish Basque Country (and to the Spanish Estado de las Autonomías /State of Autonomies) Bunce's theory and arguments have been applied on the situation in Spain. In the second case of the French Basque Country, and especially in the following comparative analysis, the situation in Spain can be/ is compared with the situation in France. It is thus possible to test the hypothesis on subversive institutions and to note the differences produced by the existence of autonomy in Spain. Bunce’s theory has been tested on Spain (Spanish Basque Country) particularly for its quasi-federal structure of so-called autonomous communities (comunidades autónomas), or in Spanish jargon, Autonomías. Spanish autonomías provide a certain framework of a proto-state, nation-state, „state-in-waiting“, and strengthen the centrifugal forces and local nationalism in a way, maybe to a lesser extent, but similarly as former republics of the ex-socialist federations. There comes the idea to test the theory of subversive institutions on Spain, i.e. Spanish Basque Country.
In the introductory chapters of the dissertation, the phenomena of identity and nationalism have been tackled, followed by the theory of subversive institutions, as well as other supportive theories of the official nationalism (Anderson, 1990), path dependency (Krasner, 1984) and logic of appropriateness (March and Olsen, 2009). Finally, the three main arguments of the theory of subversive institutions have been elaborated, as well as the fourth, “counter argument”. The two case studies follow, of the Spanish and the French Basque Country, structured in the same or very similar way. Firstly, the phenomenon of the Basque identity, its formation and its specifics for each of the two cases, has been elaborated. Secondly, the relation of the State towards the Basques and their identity has been examined in more depth. Within that framework, process of state building and other “counter-subversive action” of the state, with the aim of diminishing the peripheral nationalism and secessionism, has been tackled. Separate chapters have been dedicated to the transition to autonomy in the Spanish Basque Country (and to the Spanish Estado de las Autonomías /State of Autonomies) after the 1978 Constitution, possess almost the entire state administration. One of the 17 autonomous communities, Autonomous Community of the Basque Country - Euskadi has a clearly defined territory, a democratically elected Parliament (officially called the Basque Parliament), a Government, officially called the Basque Government, ministries (called departamentos, departments, headed by consejeros, counselors), a Prime Minister, Lehendakari, with some prerogatives of a President, including state honours and palace. His office includes a mini Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Acción Exterior – External Action), with its delegations abroad. Thus, the Basque Government can project its image abroad. The autonomous administration has some 60 000 employees, to which one has to add the 30 000 employees of the provincial and communal administration, and disposes of a 10.6 billion € budget. At the same time, the central state administration in the Basque Country counts only 15 000 employees. Euskadi disposes of its own police forces Ertzaintza. As mentioned before, several authors argue that with such a developed administrative apparatus, a “segment-state”, in our case the Spanish Autonomous Community of the Basque Country- Euskadi, has been in power for most of the post-1978 Constitution period. Its institutions are consequently able to act as centrifugal (“subversive”) institutions, transmitting nationalist messages through media, education system, and regional institutions. But their nationalist message is not of Spanish, but of peripheral, in this case, Basque nationalism. Given the specific, unfavourable linguistic situation of diglossia, and the importance of language for national (and Basque) identity, the Basque Governments took it as a mission to restore to the Basque language a status of a full-fledged official and education language, in a sense of
Gellner’s “language of high culture” (1998). (Re)Introducing the Basque language, not only in schools and universities, but literary everywhere, rebasquisating Euskadi, a Basque identity has been (re)enforced. Nowadays almost all institutions under the competence of local, autonomous institutions in the Spanish Basque Country are obliged to adopt Action plans or Five-year plans on the language normalization, that is, reinforced use of the Basque language. The Basque Government, in that way projects certain ideology and builds up and strengthens the Basque national identity. A new, Basque nation is being built.The statistics speak for themselves. Before the autonomy, that is, before 1978/1980, education language was 100% Spanish. Nowadays, only a tiny 0.5% of students study exclusively in Spanish (so called Model X), and 15.3% in Model A, with education in Spanish, and Basque language as one of the subjects. 18.9% study in bilingual schools (Model B) and the high 65.3% study in Basque schools (Model D), with Spanish language as one of the subjects. The presence of the Basque language is enforced in other areas as well. For instance, in public administration the targeted percentage of Basque speakers should be 48.46% and it should increase with the rise of knowledge of the Basque language in general population. Moreover, the presence of the Basque language is checked regularly in yearly evaluation reports. In the Parliament, in 2005-2009 legislature, 56% of deputies spoke Basque, while in 2013 the percentage rose to 68,5%. At the University of the Basque Country, in Academic year 1995/1996, 27.2% of the students studied in Basque, while in 2013/2014 the percentage rose to 64.3%. The number of bilingual professors (Basque and Spanish) rose from 35.1% in 2006 to 47.8% in 2013. Similar processes can be followed everywhere.As far as identity is concerned, the 35% of the interviewees in the opinion polls conducted by the University of the Basque Country declare themselves as “only Basques”, 21% as “more Basque than Spanish”, 35% “equally Basque and Spanish”, 3% “more Spanish” and 3% “only Spanish”. As it can be noted, Basque identity prevails, with a significant percentage of dual identity. Spanish identity (more or exclusively Spanish) is quite low. Opinion polls also testify of the presence of a strong local (Basque) patriotism, and at the same time, mistrust in Spanish State institutions. For example, 62% of the interviewees show trust in the Basque Government, 61% in the Basque Parliament and Basque police Ertzaintza, while only 39% in the King, 15% in the Spanish Cortes and 11% in the Spanish Government. Trust in the Basque Prime Minister is 56%, while in the Spanish Prime Minister it is only 7%. Regarding the attitude towards secessionism, 35% of interviewees support the present autonomous status, 29% favour federation (which understands a more autonomy), 7% favour more centralization and 25% favour secession. Although the latter percentage alone seems low as to provide proof of secessionism in stricto senso, the sum of the all percentages, except for 7% for centralization, should be taken into consideration if secessionism were to be regarded in a wider sense (as peripheral nationalism; autonomism and secessionism; Horowitz, 1985). From the data above, the conclusion can be drawn that the process of Basque nation-building maybe has not finished yet, but is well under way and that there is a “Basque direction” of the Euskadi.
As for the Basque language in the French Basque Country, though it is increasingly present in its schools, public institutions and society, it still does not enjoy an official status. The improvement of linguistic situation is only partially due to the incitement on the part of the authorities. There is an immense difference from Spain. The French state after 1980-s allowed more freedom and space for “regional languages” to be taught, but did not impose it, force it by “dictate”, as has been in the case of Euskadi. The main credit for the improvement of status of the Basque language is due to the efforts of the civil society, associations and citizens themselves. The results, comparing the Spanish and the French Basque Country, vary accordingly. Only 36,6% of school children attend some Basque language classes, while in Spanish Basque Country it is 99,5%. There is the Public Office of the Basque Language (OPLB), that helps and promotes teaching Basque language in the French Basque Country, but it has no authority to impose the Basque language in education as the Viceconsejería de Política Lingüística of the Gobierno Vasco and the Gobierno Vasco in the Spanish Basque Country. Only 11% of the interviewees feel “only Basques”, 5% “more Basques”, 24% “equally Basques and French”, 16% “more French and 36% “only French”. In the French Basque Country, the French identity and the French language in both education and society prevail. There is no “Basque direction” or Basque nation-building process.
The third argument of the theory of subversive institutions is about elites’ building. In Euskadi, there is the local (Basque) Parliament, where the Basque nationalists have dominated since the first elections after the establishment of autonomy (1980), with an average of 60% of votes/seats, except for the period 2009-2012 (due to a ban of the Basque radicals before the elections). In the current legislature, 2012-2016, the nationalists (moderate PNV-EAJ and radical EH Bildu) have 48 out of 75 seats. That means that they have been able to impose a “Basque direction”, e.g. policies of rebasquization (termed language normalization), or vote
the Ibarretxe Plan. There are also numerous examples of party competition in nationalism and local patriotism, e.g. the issue of Basque language use, flag, coat of arms or anthem.
In the French Basque Country, due to non-existence of a local Parliament or self-rule, there are no such phenomena. There have been since decades Basque nationalist parties, and they score up to 10% of the votes. Nowadays, there is also a Basque nationalist party, AB (Abertzaleen Batasuna), which is relatively successful at the lower, communal level, having around 100 councillors. However, the non-existence of a Basque administrative unit,département, and centralist French electoral and administrative system, result in a situation where only two Basque nationalist councillors managed to enter the General Council of the Département Pyrénées-Atlantiques, of which French Basque Country is a part. And there they are only two of the 54 councillors. Therefore, even if at the lower, communal level, Basques nationalists can enter the local communes and be part of ruling coalitions, or form associations of local councillors and mayors, they cannot impose a more “Basque direction” of the whole French Basque Country, like their Spanish Basque counterparts.
The autonomy, embodied in the Euskadi’s Basque parliament, enabled Basque nationalists in the Spanish Basque Country (Autonomous Community of the Basque Country – Euskadi) to come to power at the local level and to direct the (Spanish) Basque Country towards a “Basque direction“. In addition, it helped also to build up their own elites – party elites and leaders, Government and Parliament dignitaries, above all the Prime Minister- Lehendakari, local public company managers, University, Academy, institutes’ directors etc. If a potential future new country needs the infrastructure (i.e. state administration, the framework), it also needs identity/ideology and leaders (the contents and experts). And here they are! Not only are they in place, but they are in power! Finally, having their own Basque University will help to reproduce new Basque elites. In contrast, the French Basque Country does not possess almost any of the above. Indeed, the difference produced by autonomy is immense.
A special attention has been given to the Ibarretxe Plan which represents at the same time a peak of the autonomy, but also shows its limits. Juan Jose Ibarretxe, Euskadi’s Prime Minister (Lehendakari) from 1999 to 2009, put forward in 2003 his Proposal for Reform of the Political Statute of Community of Euskadi, popularly known as Ibarretxe Plan. It was actually a proposal for a confederation between the Basque Country and Spain. The relations
between them would be based on a „free association“(Art.1). Without going into details of the Proposal, suffice it to say that, had it been enacted, even without a completely independent Basque Country, it would mean the end of Spain as we know it today. The Plan was approved by the Basque Government in 2003, and a year later, by the Basque Parliament, although with a narrow majority of 39 out of 75 votes. However, in order to be enacted, the Proposal should have passed in the Spanish Parliament. It was not surprising that the Spanish Parliament had rejected any discussion about it.
Today a Spanish “carte blanche” for an independent Basque Country seems completely unimaginable. Nevertheless, remembering the “velvet divorce” of Czech and Slovak Republics and bearing in mind as well the development of situation in Catalonia, one cannot exclude, under different circumstances and leadership in Madrid and Euskadi, a possibility of a “new Ibarretxe Plan” leading to a “velvet divorce” and eventually to an independent Basque Country.
To conclude, the autonomy enabled institutions (Parliament/Argument 1), nurtured Basque identity (Argument 2), enabled Basque nationalists to come to power, created a space for Basque elites and leaders and created space or even incentives for party competition in Basque nationalism (Argument 3). The thing the autonomy has not produced, and that lacks for secessionists, is a “window of opportunity” (Bunce, 1999). But if the “window” opens, as in the case of e.g. Czechoslovak “velvet divorce”, an opportunity for a potential sovereign Basque state could be created.
The comparative analysis has showed more sharply the differences between the two cases resulting from the existence of the autonomy in the Spanish Basque Country (Autonomous Community of the Basque Country- Euskadi) and its absence in the French Basque Country. While in Euskadi the nationalists have since 1980 scored around 60% of the votes in the Basque Parliament and dominated local politics for most of the time, in the French Pays Basque they never score more than 10% and have always been quite irrelevant at the regional local level (except for the lower local level of municipalities). The Basque identity prevailed in Euskadi and French in the Pays Basque. The Basque nationalists have been able to impose a “Basque direction” and an intensive “basquization” within the language normalization policy in Euskadi, which has not been the case in Pays Basque. Finally, a serious sovereignist/secessionist attemps – Ibarretxe Plan occurred, materialized, and was voted in the Basque Parliament of Euskadi, while in the Pays Basque anything of a kind is beyond imagination. There is no French Basque Government to conceive such a plan, no French Basque Parliament as a forum where such a Plan could be voted and no prevalence of Basque nationalists to vote such a plan…All of these phenomena are direct or indirect results of the autonomy or were allowed and fostered by the autonomic institutions in the Spanish Basque Country. Conversely, they are missing in the French Basque Country due to lack of autonomy. The two cases confirmed the hypothesis that the autonomy in ethno-federal arrangements fosters peripheral nationalism and secessionism and a potential for secession, while civic State attenuates them.
Interestingly enough, even the consultative institutions of the French “new governance”, initially quite powerless, managed to acquire some of the features of the “subversive institutions”. They have become increasingly “Basque” and have taken a “Basque direction”. However, the civic, centralised and unitary State prevented these institutions stripped of a real power from taking a lead in the Basque nationalism, to gain any significant power, or to direct the French Basque Country in any “Basque direction”. The civic State in France indeed acted in attenuating peripheral, Basque nationalism by not providing it a “window of opportunity” to grow.