regional nationalism

   The constitution of 1978 "guarantees the right to autonomy of the nationalities and regions which form [the Spanish Nation]", without being specific about the distinction between nationalities and regions. In practice, the term "regional nationalism" normally refers to the three so-called "historic nationalities", those of Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque country (Euskadi). Catalanism slowly evolved in the nineteenth century from moderate regionalism and a cultural revival (the Renaixença) into a fully fledged nationalism. Its class base, initially bourgeois, expanded during the Second Republic, when a party representing the Catalanist left gained control of the Generalitat. Under Franco, all political manifestations of Catalan culture were silenced, though a slow underground revival began. By the time of Franco's death, Catalanism had become a movement transcending classes, parties, and generations, which led to the reestablishment of the Generalitat in 1977. Since then, even centralist parties in Catalonia have had to reshape their names and agendas to accommodate regional aspirations. After the approval of the Statute of Autonomy and the ensuing regional elections (1980), the Generalitat became dominated by the centre-right nationalist coalition CiU. The Catalan language has been the core of most aspects of Catalan nationalism, and has experienced a revival unparalleled among other stateless nations. A law of language normalization was passed in 1983 to regulate its public use.
   By contrast, Basque nationalism lacked since its beginnings a similar cultural cohesiveness. The nationalist PNV focused initially on language, race and religion as unifying principles, but the debate was radically altered by the emergence of the younger militants of ETA in 1959. In practice, it was difficult to mobilize support on a purely ethniccultural basis, since only a minority spoke—and still speak—Basque. As ETA turned to Marxism and class mobilization, appeals to ethnicity became impracticable, since most workers were non-Basque immigrants. ETA's support, however, increased as the Franco regime's legitimacy declined, and the organization recruited its members on the basis of patriotic commitment and resistance to repression, rather than ethnic considerations. Nevertheless, differing conceptions of Basque identity led to internal conflicts within ETA and nationalist circles. Basque nationalism dramatically expanded its basis of support during the transition to democracy (1975–82). By the time the Statute of Autonomy was approved in 1980, one section of ETA (ETApm) had virtually abandoned the armed struggle, and it confirmed this stance in 1982. By 1986, four main nationalist parties were competing for the electorate: the far-left pro-independence Herri Batasuna, the left nationalists of Euskadiko Ezkerra (Basque Left), the more moderate Eusko Alkartasuna and the historic centre-right PNV Together they normally secure the majority of votes, at least in Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa (where they often win over 70 percent).
   Galician nationalism, on the other hand, has never been a mass movement until quite recently. Its origins lie in the nineteenth-century Rexurdimento (Renaissance), a largely urban literary revival which rediscovered the Galician roots of Portuguese, and mythified the region's Celtic past. With urbanization and modernization, nationalism slowly expanded, but only in the 1990s has the Bloque National Gallego (BNG-Galician National Bloc) gained consistent percentages at regional elections (18.7 percent and thirteen seats in the 1993 elections).
   Further reading
   - Conversi, D. (1997) The Basques, the Catalans, and Spain: Alternative Routes to Nationalist Mobilization, London: Hurst.
   - Hooper, J. (1995) The New Spaniards, Harmondsworth: Penguin (chapters 26–30 give an excellent account of the dynamics of regional nationalism).
   DANIELE CONVERSI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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