Spain. During the year, the Basque separatist movement ETA continued its campaign of violence with explosions and deaths. Several attacks were carried out against tourist resorts and ETA seemed more indiscriminately to target its terrorists to public figures who have made a critical statement, not only to politicians and representatives of the judiciary. A number of suspected ETA members were arrested during the year, mainly in Spain but also in France, and large quantities of explosives and weapons were seized. In October, ETA indicated that the campaign of violence had failed and that a political solution would be sought instead. The authorities considered it to be a result of the successful proposals.
In October, police also stated that seven high-ranking members had been arrested and that much of the group’s network in the Basque Country had been destroyed. But Prime Minister José María Aznar dismissed ETA’s eviction and it was not long before a car bomb in Madrid reminded that Europe’s only remaining major terrorist organization was still active. Nearly 100 people were injured in the explosion. Just a day later, a judge was shot dead in Basque Bilbao. ETA and several related groups were included in the list of terrorists agreed by the EU countries following the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11. Most of the 29 people on the list were members of the Basque group.
- Abbreviationfinder: lists typical abbreviations and country overview of Spain, including bordering countries, geography, history, politics, and economics.
The ruling Basque Nationalist Party PNV strengthened its position in the regional elections in May, receiving 43% of the vote. However, support for Euskal Herritarrok, ETA’s political branch, fell by eight percentage points to 10%.
In March, 400,000 people in Madrid demonstrated plans to build over 100 ponds and divert water from the great river Ebro, which flows through northeastern Spain and into the Mediterranean south of Barcelona. The plan was aimed at improving the water supply along the dry coast in the south-east, an area that is hard pressed by agriculture and tourism. The critics felt that environmental damage would be too great. Instead, the socialist opposition proposed investments in desalination and more efficient water use.
In January, a new foreign law was passed, despite protests and hunger strikes among immigrants without a residence permit. Illegal immigrants were prohibited from attending meetings, demonstrating, striking or joining unions. The opposition also opposed the law, fearing that tens of thousands of people might be forced to leave Spain.
Requirements for regional self-government
In one of the main issues of the 2004 elections, increased self-government for both the Basque Country, Cataluña and Galicia, also saw a shift – from Aznar’s “Spanish unity” to Zapatero’s “Spanish diversity”. A referendum in Cataluña in 2006 gave a clear majority for increased self-government for the region. However, a concrete plan for the Basque country, with Ibarretxe as architect, was voted down in the National Assembly. ETA continued its dispersed bombing operations, but emerged as increasingly weakened and divided. In 2005, Zapatero initiated new peace talks with ETA.
The PSOE’s reform policy somewhat intensified tensions between state power and the country’s traditionally politically influential Catholic church; The decision on gender-neutral marriage law in 2005 was also met with mass demonstrations. In the same year, Spain granted residence permits for illegal immigrants with half a year’s work and permanent residence in the country, around 800,000 people. At the same time, efforts were constantly made to strengthen the border with North Africa. The two Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco, which in 1995 gained autonomous status in line with Madrid and Barcelona, were the decade after almost stormed by people trying to enter Europe; the army was deployed and lives were lost.
In 1991, Spain proposed giving Gibraltar internal self-government under common Spanish / British rule, which was rejected by the British. Unofficial referendums in Gibraltar have provided overwhelming majority for British affiliation. The celebration of the 300th anniversary of the British crown colony in 2004 led to diplomatic relations between the two countries. At the initiative of the EU, an agreement was entered into to seek to develop a common position on future arrangements for the peninsula both countries believe they are historically entitled to.
In 2004, Crown Prince Felipe married the former TV journalist Letizia Ortiz, the first wedding in the Spanish royal house of 98 years. Marriage with a divorced aroused debate, but the popular enthusiasm surrounding the wedding confirmed the monarchy’s solid position. Juan Carlos 1 abdicated in 2014 and Felipe took over as king.
Recession and high unemployment
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was strong growth in the Spanish economy as a result of large housing investment growth, but during Zapatero’s second reign, the country entered the longest period of recession in the era of democracy. The economic downturn lasted from 2008 to 2013. When the global financial crisis occurred (2008), the housing bubble burst and unemployment rose dramatically. In 2013, Spain had an unemployment rate of 27%. Major cuts were introduced in public consumption, and the Spanish community was characterized by social unrest.
Zapatero did not stand as prime minister for the period. The National Assembly election was postponed to November 2011, but this time Zapatero did not stand for election. PSOE’s prime ministerial candidate was Alfredo Rubalcaba, who lost to Mariano Rajoy of Partido Popular (PP). Rajoy introduced the most extensive tightening of the Spanish economy since the dictatorship. Despite growth in the economy after 2013, unemployment was still very high in the years ahead.
In response to corruption and economic austerity policy, a protest movement grew throughout Spain. The protest movement formed the basis for the left-wing party Podemos. On the other hand, there was greater support around the relatively newly established neo-liberal party Ciudadanos. The 2015 parliamentary elections were characterized by the competition between four parties with a high turnout. On the one hand the two established parties, the Socialists (PSOE) and the Right Party (PP), and on the other side the two new parties Podemos and Ciudadanos. The right-wing party PP received the most votes, but the result did not provide a basis for a new majority government. Mariano Rajoy was prime minister until June 1, 2018, when he had to step down due to mistrust of a comprehensive corruption case. Pedro Sanchez of the Socialists (PSOE) took over as prime minister after Rajoy.
Catalonia’s independence from Spain
The issue of Catalonia’s independence from Spain is currently the biggest conflict in Spanish domestic politics. An alternative referendum on Catalonia’s political future took place in the region in November 2014. The referendum was not approved by the Spanish authorities and can only be considered symbolic. In 2017, Catalan authorities organized a new illegal referendum on secession from Spain. The Spanish government and the Constitutional Court declared that the referendum was unconstitutional and received EU support. Spanish authorities abolished self-government in the period October 2017-May 2018, but from May 2018, Joaquim Torra, from the independence coalition JUNTSxCAT, took over as head of Catalonia’s self-government. There is uncertainty and great political disagreement related to how to resolve the conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish authorities.
The terrorist attack in 2017
On August 17, 2017, Barcelona was hit by a terrorist attack when a cash van drove into pedestrians on La Rambla street. 14 people were killed and more than 100 injured. The night before, a building was destroyed and a woman was killed in an explosion in the city of Alcanar. Nine hours after the attack, police shot and killed five people in an exchange of gunfire in Cambrils. IS blamed the attacks.
According to Countryaah, the population of Spain in 2001 was 44,019,012, ranking number 28 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.520% yearly, and the population density was 88.2501 people per km2.