Levels of belonging in the Basque Country: what does the data say?

Different studies collect quantitative data on the degree of belonging or membership of Basque citizens. Using three different sources and knowing that each has its own methodological characteristics, we offer in this paper a snapshot of the current reality.

In recent years, the Naziometroa (with data from the Basque Country) and the Sociometer with a longer historical series (with data from the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, ACBC), have collected the feeling of belonging of Basque citizens between the categories “Basque” and “Spanish (or French in the case of the Naziometroa)”. If we look at the results of both surveys, the majority of citizens choose these two identities when asked where they feel they belong: according to the latest Naziometroa, 48.2% felt Basque or Navarrese and Spanish/French, while in the Sociometer the figure was higher.

According to the latest Naziometroa, 48.2% felt Basque or Navarrese and Spanish/French, while in the Sociometer the figure was higher.

Both studies provide us with a very interesting contribution for analysing the existing reality in Basque society and its evolution in terms of the feeling of belonging. In this sense, the evolution of the data indicates that these feelings are not static. In both the Naziometroa and Sociometer data, the category of only “Basques” (or mixed with “other” combinations) is losing weight in the responses. This decline has shifted to mixed identities, which combine ‘Basque’ and ‘Spanish/French’, as only the ‘Basque’ and ‘Spanish/French’ categories have been included.

Such research therefore allows us to make historical comparisons in a specific context. However, there is another interesting research in this field. The European Quality of Government Index (EQI) is a survey conducted in the countries of the European Union with 129,000 responses in 2021. In the case of this survey, the respondent is asked about the degree of belonging by level of the area (regional, state and European) on a scale of 0 to 10. Thus, by asking about the feeling, adhesion or identification with each territorial area in a graded way, it is also possible to analyse the gradations between feelings that occur jointly or simultaneously; together with this, what happens in the ACBC and Navarre (The North Basque Country is impossible because it does not have differentiated data) can be contextualised with all the other European regions.

And what is the result? What is the feeling of belonging of Basque and Navarrese citizens to the region, to the State and to Europe like, comparing the three variables and comparing them with the rest of the regions analysed?

The ACBC has the lowest degree of belonging to the State of all the regions analysed, 4.3 points, and the second lowest in Catalonia, 6 points. In this order of areas with the least ties to the State, Navarre ranks 18th out of 197 cases.

In general, the order of membership obtained in most regions, from the most affinity zone to the lowest, is as follows: the state comes first, then the region, and the lowest membership is with Europe. This is the order in 45.7% of the regions on the map. Neither the ACBC nor Navarre are in this category. In the case of these two areas, the greatest membership is in the region. But they also differ from each other.

Among Navarrese citizens, belonging to the region is the highest (8.05), followed by belonging to the State (7.4) and Europe (7.06). In this order are 57 other regions, including Galicia, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Aragon, La Rioja, Asturias, Corsica, Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana and Sardinia.

But the ACBC is not in that category. The ACBC is in a third category, together with Catalonia. In the case of these two regions, and according to this survey it is only in the case of these regions, the order is as follows: belonging to the region is the highest, Europe is second, and the State comes last. We could say that the reason for the creation of this order is the low level of attachment to the State in particular. In fact, the ACBC has the lowest degree of belonging to the State of all the regions analysed, 4.3 points, and the second lowest in Catalonia, 6 points. In this order of areas with the least ties to the State, Navarre ranks 18th out of 197 cases.

What conclusions can we draw from these data? Firstly, we must be very cautious in interpreting the data and take into account the methodology used for each investigation, the formulation of questions and the collection of data. Having consulted the different sources, it seems that changes are taking place dynamically around the feelings of belonging and attachment of Basque citizenship, and that the trend of the last season is towards a growing confusion between Basque and Spanish/French citizenship. At the same time, however, this mix is not balanced. They do not live with the same intensity. This becomes more evident if we broaden the geographical perspective and look at the reality of a wider context; there are indications that adherence to the state is more modest in our environment than elsewhere. This opens up interesting fields of research. We would highlight two main ones. One on how these accessions come together or how they are understood and experienced and what factors lie behind the different gradations, and the other on the changes that will occur in the coming years.

This work arises in the context of the second conference of the Barometer of Basque Sovereignty Naziometroa, entitled “Quantitative data. Degree of belonging in the Basque Country”.

Images: Aztiker

Enara Eizagirre Arandia and Asier Etxenike Ugarte

Aztiker Ikergunea

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