All we are saying is, give nationalism a chance 

In 2009, I visited the small mountain town of Aulesti in the Basque Country in northern Spain. It is the kind of place where people only speak Basque -- you won't get very far speaking Spanish -- and where you'll find quite a bit of anti-Spain graffiti.

On a lark, I decided to look up the results from that charming little town from Sunday's Spanish local elections, in which the Socialist Party was brutally crushed, conservatives won in areas they had not previously, and Basque separatists showed promising signs of strength. From Aulesti, with all precincts in:













The two separatist parties (BILDU and PNV) combined for 99 percent of the vote. The Socialists and the PP each received exactly one vote -- in both cases an improvement over their performance in 2007, when both they received zero votes. (The best explanation I have heard so far is that there are now two Chinese immigrant refugees who have moved to Aulesti. Those are apparently their votes.)

The results from Aulesti serve as a reminder that not all of the Socialists' losses benefited the conservative Partido Popular (which nonetheless enjoyed its best election since Franco's death). In the Basque Country, the separatist parties' performance was closely watched because some left-wing Basque nationalist parties had been suppressed by the Spanish government in the 2009 elections. This time, the "patriotic left" was allowed on the ballot, and they combined with the more center-right separatist party to win 55 percent of the vote in the Basque Country.

With this election, there seems to be some optimism that even the most extreme Basque nationalists on the Left have chosen ballots over bullets, and that the current cease fire by the Basque terrorist group ETA will give way to a permanent abandonment of violence.

This month, we have seen three referenda on nationalism, with mixed results. The lesson is that when it comes to separatist movements, it all depends on who's doing the separating.

Earlier this month, voters in Quebec soundly rejected their own secessionist party in favor of the unionist New Democrats. The Bloc Quebecois, which had dominated Quebec's national politics since the early 1990s, lost 90 percent of its seats in Parliament and now holds only four seats.

On the other hand, the dream of independence lives on in Scotland, where the secessionist Scottish National Party obtained an absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament for the first time since the regional assembly was created in 1999.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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