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Tuesday, 27 August, 2002, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Profile: Batasuna
Passer-by walks past a wall painting which says (in Basque)  'Ban on ideas, stop fascism', in Tolosa, northern Spain
Batasuna denies any links to ETA
Basque separatist party Batasuna is accused of acting as a political front for the Basque paramilitary group, ETA - a charge it denies.

Spanish authorities say Batasuna provides members, material and technical assistance to ETA. They also say many members of Batasuna are members of ETA.

Like Sinn Fein and the IRA in Northern Ireland, Batasuna does not condemn ETA's actions, saying they are merely another element of the Basque problem.

For the authorities, this is proof of Batasuna's involvement with the armed group.

The decision to outlaw Batasuna, which must be approved by the Spanish supreme court, would prevent the party from standing in municipal elections in 2003.

Regional influence

Historically, the party takes 10% -20% of the Basque vote.

GOROSTIAGA ATXALANDABASO
Batasuna MEP Gorostiaga Atxalandabaso

But while Batasuna controls 62 town councils, it saw its representation in the 75-seat Basque regional parliament halved from 14 to seven in the 2001 election.

The dip in popularity perhaps reflected growing weariness among the wider Basque population with the violence and bloodshed.

Batasuna boycotted the last general election in 2000. Before that, it had two deputies in the Spanish parliament.

It also has one Euro MP.

Name changes

The party, which was founded in 1978, has changed its name many times to avoid previous banning attempts.

Over the last 10 years, it has been successively known as Herribatasuna , then Euskal Herritarok, now just Batasuna ("unity" in Basque).

It was initially founded as a political coalition of left-wing groups, after the new Spanish constitution was rejected in the Basque country.

The party demands Basque independence and socialism, and pre-eminence in the area of the Basque language over Spanish.

Batasuna leaders and deputies have repeatedly found themselves in trouble with the courts.

In December 1997, the entire 23-membership was sentenced to jail for collaborating with an armed group after showing a campaign video showing ETA activists.

But they were released nearly two years later on a legal technicality.


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23 Aug 02 | Europe
05 Aug 02 | Europe
24 Jul 02 | Europe
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