100,000 people form human chain to call for Basque independence vote

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By Alice Tidey
People form a human chain to call for a vote on Basque independence.
People form a human chain to call for a vote on Basque independence.   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Vincent West

Over 175,000 people in Spain’s Basque Country formed a 200km human chain on Sunday to call for a vote on independence.

The chain extended 201.9km from San Sebastian (also known as Donostia) to Victoria-Garteiz — the capital of the Basque autonomous community.

It was organised by the Guru Esku Dago (In Our Own Hands) group as a peaceful call to the Spanish government to allow a vote on independence.

Similar to the situation in Catalonia, the Spanish government has stated that any vote would be illegal.

Article 2 of the Spanish Constitution refers to the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation", and an attempt to hold an independence vote in Catalonia last year was met with a harsh crackdown with the central government taking over the running of the region's affairs.

Former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was widely criticised for his handling of the Catalan crisis, was ousted from office in a no-confidence vote on June 1. The motion, brought forward by the Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, was backed by Basque and Catalan MPs.

Now prime minister, Sanchez has indicated that he would be willing to amend the Constitution to grant autonomous regions more powers. He stayed short of advocating for full secession but declared himself in favour of a more federal approach.