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Party leader Arnaldo Otegi
founding 1978
Place of foundation Basque Country
resolution January 3, 2013

The Batasuna (Basque for 'unity', pronunciation [bata'ɕuna] ) was the successor to the left-wing Herri Batasuna ( People's Union , HB) party founded in 1978 in the Spanish Basque Country . Batasuna was founded on May 23, 2001 and banned in Spain in 2003 . Despite the ban in the Basque Country and Navarre, it continued to be active in public, which is why investigating magistrate Fernando Grande-Marlaska provisionally banned the activities of Batasuna again in February 2006. In France , the party continued to exist until it dissolved itself on January 3, 2013.

Shortly after it was founded, Batasuna was suspected of acting as the political arm of the Basque underground organization ETA . After an organizational or financial connection to the ETA could not be sufficiently proven, the party was banned in court on March 17, 2003 on the basis of the Political Parties Act of 2002 (Ley de Partidos of 2002). The EU leads the Batasuna as a terrorist organization and part of the ETA.

After the ETA was largely dismantled by the Spanish and French authorities in 2007, Batasuna has lost all significance. Its political legacy is the Bildu electoral alliance .


Batasuna wall painting in Pasaia (to the left an ETA
graffiti sprayed with a stencil )

HB, the predecessor of Batasuna, was founded in Pamplona in 1978 . Herri Batasuna was an amalgamation of several socialist and separatist organizations, which were also united by their rejection of the Spanish constitution of 1978 .

Joseba Permach and Arnaldo Otegi act as spokesmen for the banned party. Otegi was an active ETA member until 1981, he belonged to the dissolved ETA-pm (politico-military) spin-off.

Batasuna and her predecessor denied ties to the ETA. Several attempts to ban the party failed during the 1980s and 1990s because organic compounds could not be proven. In an alliance with other parties, Batasuna supported the Euskal Herritarrok coalition ( Basque Citizens , EH) for some time also the Basque regional government, which as a minority government was dependent on them.

The conservative Spanish government under José María Aznar had always tried to ban HB and later Batasuna. The chairman and Senate member of HB, Santiago Brouard , had already fallen victim to an assassination attempt in Bilbao in November 1984 by the death squads financed and covered by high officials of the socialist government under Felipe González , the so-called anti-terrorist liberation groups ( GAL ). From 1998, the investigating judge at the National Court of Justice Baltasar Garzón took legal action against Batasuna. He has since temporarily banned a number of newspapers, magazines, organizations, parties and electoral rolls. In a case against the youth organizations Jarrai, Haika and Segi, which was concluded in 2005, the judges at the National Court of Justice, a special court in Madrid, saw no subordination to the ETA.

On October 5, 2007, the Spanish police arrested 22 high-ranking members of the Batasuna, practically the entire leadership of the organization, in their worst blow to date. The raid took place in the Basque town of Segura , where the Batasuna board was holding a secret meeting, according to the media. Those arrested, including Joseba Permach, were accused of supporting a terrorist organization. The Minister of the Interior of the Basque Country, Javier Balza , described the police action as counter-productive, as the party still had a lot of popular support and this would undermine political dialogue.

Status and elections

On August 26, 2002, when parliament passed the new party law on the same day, Garzón also suspended Batasuna's party rights, initially for three years. The law was rushed through and has been heavily criticized by human rights groups such as Amnesty International . The party prohibition proceedings were officially initiated when Batasuna only regretted an attack by ETA on August 4, 2002 and did not expressly condemn it, as required by the new law. In March 2003 the party was officially banned. The ban was extended retrospectively to the dissolved parties HB and EH.

Supporters of the left independence movement then built the Autodeterminaziorako Bilgunea ( Collection for Self-Determination , AuB) in order to take part in the elections. Since people ran for AuB who had often stood for Batasuna or EH many years before the party was banned, AuB was also banned by the Supreme Court. With the new law on political parties, a special chamber for party prohibition proceedings was set up at the Supreme Court. Batasuna called on its constituents to invalidate the vote. (In the same month the US government added Batasuna to its list of terrorist organizations.) At the request of the Spanish government, Batasuna was added to the EU list of terrorist organizations.

The process of prohibition was repeated on the occasion of the 2004 elections to the European Parliament . A list called Herritarren Zerrenda (“Citizens List”) was banned before the elections in Spain, but took place in France. However, because of the small population in the French Basque Country, this list did not move into the EU Parliament. The list called for invalid votes in the Spanish Basque Country and celebrated the 12% invalid ballot as a political success. (In previous European elections, the invalid proportion was always less than one percent.) Since there were no former Batasuna or EH candidates among the candidates on the “Citizens List”, the special chamber had to justify the ban in some other way. It was argued that the list is aimed at the same electorate as Batasuna and that their candidates are members of the left independence movement.

The same consideration is behind the current party line of the conservative Partido Popular (PP), which since May 2007 has been calling for an automatic ban on all lists of candidates who represent left-wing Basque national positions ( izquierda abertzale ) in elections.

For the regional elections in the Autonomous Basque Country on April 17, 2005, Batasuna made a recommendation for the PCTV-EHAK , the Communist Party of the Basque Territories . The party was already registered and approved under the Aznar government before the Batasuna ban in 2002. The party adopted the minimum program from Aukera Guztiak ( All Options ). The previously newly established citizens' list wanted to guarantee that all social sectors would be represented in the new regional parliament. Aukera Guztiak had been banned because candidates had been in contact with the head of the legal left-wing nationalist trade union LAB, which is close to Batasuna. EHAK entered the Basque Parliament with 12.5% ​​of the vote and won nine seats, two more than Batasuna before. Critics claim that EHAK was infiltrated by Batasuna. Aralar won 2.3% of the vote and entered the Basque Parliament with one member. On February 8, 2008, EHAK, as well as the traditional left-wing national party ANV (Acción Nacionalista Vasca), was banned by Judge Baltasar Garzón for a period of three years, thus preventing them from running in the 2008 elections.

After the Conservatives lost the election, Batasuna had proposed a peaceful solution to the Socialists. Under the title Orain Herria - Orain Bakea (Now the Land - Now Peace), the party gathered more than 15,000 people in the Donostia-San Sebastián cycling stadium in November 2004. The Spanish Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero ( PSOE ) hesitantly accepted the proposal. In May 2005, he was given permission by the Spanish Parliament to negotiate with ETA on a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Parts of the ETA, however, used the ceasefire for logistical reorganization. In December 2006 a large-scale series of attacks began with an explosive device in Madrid 's Barajas airport . After the negotiations had failed so badly, in October 2007 almost all of Batasuna's senior officials were arrested for violating party law.

They are accused of continuing their "illegal activity" in the banned party.

Confirmation of the ban by the ECHR

In December 2007, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg accepted Batasuna's case and examined the legitimacy of the political party law and the ban on Batasuna and numerous other parties and electoral rolls. The Strasbourg court upheld all of the main arguments put forward by the Spanish government, including:

"89. In the present case, the court considers that the national [Spanish] courts, having examined the detailed evidence available to them, have come to reasonable decisions and that there is no reason to depart from the conclusions of the [Spanish] Supreme Court that a link between the plaintiffs [ Herri Batasuna and Batasuna] and ETA. "

The Political Parties Act was unanimously declared in conformity with human rights on June 30, 2009.

In view of the current wave of bans, the UN human rights observer in the fight against terrorism Martin Scheinin warned in May 2008 that Spain was expanding the term terrorism to include areas that had nothing to do with terrorism, and called on the Spanish government to conduct an independent review of the current criminal legislation (Art. 572-580).

The UN special envoy had been "concerned" about the "variety of provisions" of the party law in Spain allowed for bans. "Spongy formulations", so Martin Scheinin, "can be interpreted in such a way that they also apply to any political party that pursues political goals similar to terrorist groups by peaceful means". The institution, which also criticizes Spain for torture, criticizes that criminal law provisions on terrorism are sometimes vague. (See the UN report :)

As a result, in May the Spanish Constitutional Court for the first time conceded the ban on a new electoral roll, which the Supreme Court had previously issued at the request of the government, which Batasuna is said to be behind.

The proceedings against Batasuna also became legal through the indictments of the investigating judge Baltasar Garzón, who started his temporary bans with the closure of the Basque daily newspaper and Radio Egin in 1998. The Madrid Supreme Court did not share the judgment of Garzón's National Court. After 11 years, the chief judges overturned the ban on the Egin newspaper in May 2009. The long prison sentences were lifted as well as the “confiscation and liquidation of property”, which has long been worthless.

The Supreme Court had already declared the new Basque Sortu (Birth) party illegal because the judges saw it as a successor organization to Batasuna. The Bildu alliance was founded with the support of two legal separatist parties .


On January 3, 2013, two spokesmen for the party announced their dissolution in France, where Batasuna continued to exist legally after the ban in Spain. To justify this, they stated that a new phase had been entered in which Batasuna was no longer an adequate political means.


  • It's not about independence, it's about democratic rights. Interview with Urko Aiarza, representative of the banned Basque party Batasuna. In: Analysis & Criticism . No. 505 of April 14, 2006.
  • The Basque Country - Roads to a Just Peace: A conversation with Arnaldo Otegi. Pahl-Rugenstein, 2007.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Basque Batasuna Party is online for a limited time, January 3, 2012.
  2. Common Position 2009/468 / CFSP of the Council of 15 June 2009 updating Common Position 2001/931 / CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism and repealing Common Position 2009/67 / CFSP . Quote:

    "13. * "Euskadi Ta Askatasuna" / "Tierra Vasca y Libertad" - "ETA" ("Basque Fatherland and Freedom"; the following organizations belong to the terrorist group "ETA": "Kas", "Xaki", "Ekin", "Jarrai- Haika-Segi "," Gestoras pro-amnistía "," Askatasuna "," Batasuna "(alias" Herri Batasuna ", alias" Euskal Herritarrok ")," Acción Nacionalista Vasca "/" Euskal Abertzale Ekintza "(" ANV "/" EAE ")," Partido Comunista de las Tierras Vascas "/" Euskal Herrialdeetako Alderdi Komunista "(" PCTV / EHAK "))"

  3. Amnesty International sent out in 2002
  4. ^ El Correo, May 3, 2007
  5. [1] , Decision of the European Court of Human Rights of June 30, 2009.
  6. [2] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin
  9. El País, January 3, 2013.