The Spanish authorities are to investigate the origins of a new party which plans to field candidates in the country’s upcoming local elections. The concern is that the ASB, or Basque Social Nationalists, is in fact a vehicle for the banned party, Batasuna.
The Interior Ministry alleged in a statement that party backers might have direct links with illegal organisations and parties. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero wants the public prosecutor to ascertain whether the ASB is legitimate: “No one can present themselves as a candidate if they have not complied with electoral law to the letter,” he said.
Zapatero’s ruling Socialists are under intense pressure from the public and the opposition not to cede ground to the Basque terrorist group ETA or its supporters.
Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy said: “Batasuna has always been the political wing of ETA, in fact, a number of court cases have ruled that the two groups are one and the same, so its obvious that Batasuna cannot stand at the elections.”
Batasuna was banned in 2002 for its links to ETA, whose militants have led a violent campaign for an independent Basque region for more than four decades. Last December, the government broke off its peace process with ETA after a bomb at Madrid’s Barajas Airport killed two people.