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August 27, 2002 — 2 PM


“Today is a historic day for the fortitude of our democracy.”

— Javier Arenas, Secretary-General of Spain’s Popular Party, which led the vote in the Spanish parliament to ban a Basque separatist party, Batasuna.

I do not claim to know much about the Basque separatist movement, or its political wing, but banning political parties has never been particularly synonymous with democratic strength. Quite the opposite really.

Yet this damn-the-torpedoes approach to serious political turmoil is all too popular in Europe (and none-too-unusual here in Quebec). It’s the sort of thing dreamed up by middle-aged bureaucrats who don’t understand why anyone would be miffed enough to resort to violence. So just legislate the problem away and, if necessary, enforce with overzealous courts and police.

After all, blunt suppression of political ideas has always worked effectively in the past, hasn’t it? That whole Northern Ireland problem went away in a jiffy as soon as the British decided to ignore the IRA. Likewise, I’m sure those pesky Basque separatists will just hang up their weapons and call it a day. “Oh well, we’ve been banned. I guess our cause really isn’t legitimate. Ho hum.”

I don’t think violence against civilians is particularly legitimate as a method of struggle, but I also think the solution lies in reconciliation and changing attitudes, not changing laws.


Nice POV piece. Spains move looks good only to the politicians who are looking to stay in power.

If anything, banning a party will only make it grow stronger and more of a threat to peace.

Greg | Aug. 28, 2002 — 1 AM

Agreed. Encouraging the political wings of terrorist/extremist organisations is a better option than banning them. Though political movements allied with groups who perform unthinkable acts can (justifiably) be seen as sharing equal guilt for such acts, encouraging and supporting politial engagement may indeed relieve the need for violent action. If Batasuna cannot engage politically, the only remaining voice for Basque soverignists is through violence. I imagine we can now only expect more violience in Spain, not less…

Chris | Sep. 2, 2002 — 2 AM

Previously: Crossing Cuisinal Boundaries Recipe Ideas

Subsequently: Girls On Film

August 2002
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