The Illegalisation of Basque Political Parties: Sortu’s Case On Monday 7th February 2011 in an event hosted by Lokarri, Basque Citizen Network For Agreement And Consultation, and with the presence of different areas of the
representatives, the members of the
announced the statutes for the creation of a new political party. In those statutes the Abertzale Left
peaceful ways and the accumulation of pro-independence forces. They announced that such party would fully comply with the Political Parties Law. On Tuesday 8th, February 2011, Sortu, the new political party, was publicly presented. The party was defined by its promoters as “a party that seeks independence through purely political and democratic ways, advancing towards the establishment of a Basque state in the framework of the European Union.” They further rejected all violence "categorically and without hesitation...including that of ETA."
They also stated that the project “wants to respond to the new political phase that is opening in Euskal Herria; to the new hopes and aspirations of Basque society, to build a new situation of peace and democratic solution.”
On Wednesday, February 10, morning Sortu presented its statutes in the register of the Ministry of Interior. They were helped by Alex Maskey, Sinn Fein leader, and Bill Bowring, President of the European
Association of Democratic Lawyers and Human Rights. Two important figures of the international community that wanted to show their support to the new party and reclaim its legalisation. On the 16th February the Spanish Government applied the Political Parties Law and decided not to register Sortu. The government’s legal services (Abogacía del Estado) and the General Prosecutor (Fiscal General) took the case to the Supreme Courts’ Special Court 61 (Sala Especial 61).
On the 16th February 40.000 took part in a demonstration in Bilbo for Sortu’s legalisation. On the 21st March 2011 the 61 Court-room held a hearing on the case and on the 23rd March the Supreme Court decided not to register Sortu, understanding that it was a fraudulent succession of Batasuna. The 1st April 2011 the Spanish Supreme Court released its written ruling for not permitting the registration of the party. In an unprecedented move seven out of the 16 judges recorded a dissenting vote. However the decision was taken and Sortu was not registered. The party contested the decision on the Supreme Court, but their request was dismissed.
This decision made it impossible for the Party to run for the local and provincial elections held on the 22nd May 2011 (the deadline for registered parties to enter the electoral process was on the 6th April).
Sortu appealed the decision on the Spanish Constitutional Court on 18th May. The Constitutional Court, due to its nature, doesn’t have a deadline to release a ruling on the case. However, and given the General Elections to be held on the 20th November, once all parts had submitted their allegations, 21st September, Sortu’s lawyer’s registered a special request for the ruling to be released before the deadline to be present in the electoral process. (7th October for electoral coalitions).
This special request was unheard and the Sortu’s case has not been brought to the Constitutional Court’s agenda until May 2012. But even if the case was in the agenda it wasn’t treated. On this period the party wasn’t registered and couldn’t run for elections or have any kind of organic activity.
On the 20th June 2012 Sortu was declared legal by the Spanish Constitutional Court putting an end to a 15 month legal void. The promoters of Sortu appeared to assess the ruling and announced the start of a constitution debate for this new proindependence political project, to be held by the grass roots of the Abertzale Left in every town and neighbourhood.