Basque radical left announces creation of new party

"Abertzale" left says platform will condemn violence for political gain

In a bid to legalize its movement and participate in next year's municipal elections, members of the Basque radical left abertzale, including the outlawed Batasuna, announced on Saturday that they will soon organize a new party with a platform that includes public rejections of violence for political gain.

The foundations for a new party were unveiled during a news conference in Pamplona, where about 300 members of the abertzale gathered, including former Batasuna official Rufi Etxeberria and Hernani Mayor Marian Beitialarrangoitia. Both read out the document outlining the proposals of their new party, which for the first time uses the word "rejection" of violence. It falls short, however, of explicitly condemning ETA.

"Violence has no place in the strategy of this new political project," said Etxeberria. The party has yet to come up with a name.

According to the platform, the radicals pledged to "exclusively use political and democratic means" to achieve their eventual goals for a separate Basque homeland.

Batasuna was outlawed in 2003 under the Law of Political Parties. The decision was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights.

Reaction to the new party was mixed. Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy said that "no franchise of ETA will be allowed to participate in the elections if terrorism isn't defeated." But Joseba Egibar, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) president in Guipúzcoa, said that it was "evident" that the new party "won't have any links to violence."

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