The new government in Spain’s Basque country is facing its first test, barely two weeks after taking office.
Nationalist unions called a strike which, although supported by just ten percent of the workers, was denounced as politically-inspired. The new Socialist administration is the first non-Basque nationalist government in the region’s history. Critics say it merely echoes the views of Madrid. Strike leaders said they were protesting at local job losses caused by Spain’s economic slump, but Prime Minister Patxi Lopez insisted they had a deeper agenda. “This is not a strike motivated by social or economic reasons, because the workers have not had any of their rights attacked or overturned,” said Lopez. “Therefore it is a political strike.” Unlike his nationalist predecessor, Lopez supports the current level of autonomy the Basque region enjoys, and has ruled out any negotiations with the terrorist group ETA, even if they renounce violence.