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Basque Country

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The Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country is the legal document organizing the political system of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country' (Basque: Euskadiko Autonomi Erkidegoa) which includes the "historical territories" of Alava, Biscay and Guipuscoa. It forms the region into one of the autonomous communities envisioned in the Spanish Constitution of 1978. It is also known as the Statute of Gernika (Spanish: Estatuto de Guernica), after the city where its final form was approved on 29 December 1978. It was ratified by referendum on 25 October 1979, despite an abstention of more than 40% of the electorate. The statute was accepted by the lower house of the Spanish Parliament on November 29 and the Spanish Senate on December 12.

It established a system of parliamentary government, in which the president (chief of government) or lehendakari is elected by the Basque Autonomous Parliament among its members. Election of the Parliament is by universal suffrage and parliament consists of 75 deputies, 25 from each of the three Historic Territories of the community. The parliament is vested with powers over a broad variety of areas, including agriculture, industry; from culture, arts and libraries, to tax collection, policing, and transportation. Basque and Spanish are official languages.

The Ibarretxe Plan is a proposal to revise the statute so as to amplify Basque autonomy put forward by the ruling PNV.

The statute allows for Navarre to join the Community if that is the will of the Navarrese. The equal representation of the provinces regardless of actual population was a wink to Alava and Navarre, the least populated and least prone to Basque nationalism of the provinces. However the Navarrese society seems content with its current Amejoramiento del Fuero.

Earlier statutes

The Basque provinces maintained a great degree of self-government under their charters (they were called the exempted provinces, that is without royal taxes, without military conscription for the royal army except in defense case,...). After the Second Carlist War, the Fueros were abolished and substituted by the Ley Paccionada in Navarre (1841) and a diminished foral regime in the three provinces (1876). During the Second Spanish Republic, the Carlists and nationalists agitated for autonomy. The Statute of Estella did not achieve enough support.

Another proposal was approved by the Republic already in the Spanish Civil War. Its effectivity was limited to the Republic-controlled areas of Biscay and Guipuscoa.

After the surrendering of the Basque Army in 1937, the statute was abolished. However, Francisco Franco allowed the continuation of a limited self-government for Alava and Navarre, thanking their support for his uprising.

It is on the republican statute and the Alavese institutions that the current Statute of Gernika takes its legitimacy.


See also



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