Millions of Spaniards go to the pools on Wednesday (6 December) to vote in an historic referendum on their country's new democratic constitution.
Millions of Spaniards go to the pools on Wednesday (6 December) to vote in an historic referendum on their country's new democratic constitution. The event could mark the final phase of Spain's transformation from dictatorship to democracy. But one threat to this prospect comes from the Basque Country. In recent months, there has been a campaign of assassination, kidnapping and violence by ETA guerrillas opposed to the new constitution. the escalating violence has already provoked a right-wing backlash in other parts of the country.
SYNOPSIS: In Basque Country -- the fiercely independent region of northern Spain -- ETA guerrillas are still hunting down victims with political views opposed to their own, or those with a Francoist past. On Friday (1 December) gunmen murdered a policeman in the Basque town of Onate. The funeral was held the following day at the nearby town of Mondragon. To avoid possible violence at the ceremony, Spanish police refused permission for a large gathering.
The town of San Sebastian was the scene of a concerted bid by Spain's main political parties to win "yes" votes for the new constitution. But Basques say it does not offer them enough autonomy.
Communist Party leaders support the new constitution, but only a few hundred of their supporters turned up for the rally. Communist leader, Snr Santiago Carrillo, said autonomy for the Basque country was the only way to end terrorism.
About eight thousand people turned up for a Basque Nationalist Party meeting which called for either a "no" vote, or abstention. The Nationalists argue that the historic rights of the Basque people are not recognised in the planned constitution. The ETA and its extreme left-wing supporters are calling for a "no" vote because they say the document does not grant the Basque Country the right to self-determination.