Basque elections: Spain's repressive tactics backfire

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Last weekend's elections in the Basque country saw the failure of the Spanish government's attempts to use repression and anti-democratic procedural manoeuvres to silence demands for independence.

For the first time, the main pro-independence party Batasuna was prevented from standing, having been banned for its refusal to condemn ETA violence. The ban was accompanied by a wave of repression, with harassment of activists and numerous arrests of pro-independence journalists and community activists and a tightening of censorship..

Following the banning of Batasuna, a new grouping, Aukera Guztiak (All Options), was formed, managing to collected the required 30,000 signatures to contest the election. Despite the party's list being approved by the Electoral Commission, the newly-founded organisation was also banned by the Spanish Government and prevented from contesting Sunday's election.

However, a small pro-independence left party, the Communist Party of the Basque Lands, managed to escape the ban, winning nine seats after it became known that Batasuna had called for its followers to vote for the party.

The right-wing autonomist Basque president Juan Jose Ibarretxe,'s party lost four seats, retaining only 29 in the 75-seat Basque legislature, giving the CPBL the potential to force the Basque leader back to the negotiating table and reawakening hopes for peace.