Thousands form human chain in Spain's Basque

Thousands form human chain in Spain's Basque

Protesters held hands or extended scarves between themselves to form the human chain, which connected the cities of San Sebastian, Bilbao and the regional seat Vitoria.

Several pro-independence political groups and unions backed the initiative and figures from the local ruling Basque National Party joined the event.

The Basque region, for instance, has more autonomy than any of Spain's other 16 regions, with its own police force, education system, language and a special financial relationship with Madrid.

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 past year was met with a harsh crackdown with the central government taking over the running of the region's affairs.

The chain wasn't strictly about the right to vote for independence.

An Oct. 1 [2017] ballot on Catalonia's separation from Spain and consequent unilateral declaration of independence by the regional government prompted Madrid to take control of the region and arrest the civil servants involved in the vote.

Calls for a vote on Basque nationality will provide a early test for Spain's new prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, who ousted his predecessor Mariano Rajoy in a vote of no confidence which he narrowly won thanks to support from Basque and Catalan nationalists.

Sanchez, who now heads the government, called for the resumption of negotiations with the Catalan leadership. He stayed short of advocating for full secession but declared himself in favour of a more federal approach. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

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