Valencian nationalism

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Valencian nationalism (Valencian: Nacionalisme valencià; IPA: [nasionaˈlizme valensiˈa]) or Valencianism (Valencian: Valencianisme) is a political movement in the Land of Valencia, one of the Autonomous Communities of Spain.

It advocates to reach the highest level of self-government, or independence itself, for the Valencian nation.

Rival types[edit]

So-called Valencianism has been historically split in two opposed movements bitterly divided over the very nature of the Valencian identity, something which is best reflected in the debate over the philological filiation of Valencian.

For some, the Valencian language is a language by itself, no more related to Catalan than it is to other Romance languages. These are characterised by their opposition to Catalan nationalism, regarded as an expansionist movement that tries to impose Catalan language and culture in Valencia. In particular, it is nuclear to this kind of Valencianism a complete rejection of the idea of Països Catalans. This group is mostly (but not exclusively) conservative leaning and pejoratively referred to by their rivals as blavers. This mostly conservative Valencianist group tends to demand further self-government rather than political independence from Spain. Catalanistes (see below) typically accuse this group of not being genuinely interested in Valencian matters, but representing a revamped Spanish nationalism.

Reversely, the other part of Valencianism stresses the proven linguistic identity between Valencian and Catalan, then inferring a political project closely connected to Catalan nationalism which is more or less identified with nation building within a Països Catalans frame. This group is mostly (but not exclusively) left leaning and is pejoratively referred to as catalanistes by the aforementioned. Political independence from Spain is most quoted among this left leaning group. Blavers typically accuse this group of not being genuinely interested in Valencian matters, but working as a fifth column of Catalan nationalism in Valencia.

In between these arch-rival types of Valencianism, there are a number of even smaller splinters and minority groups which may adopt more or less eclectic Valencianist positions, but, overall, both movements are deeply opposed and point at each other as their main rival. Discrepancies go to the extent of not even agreeing on the name of the Valencian Region. Conservative valencianists still may refer to designate the territory as Regne de València or Kingdom of Valencia, stressing its medieval roots (even though this term has diminished over time, having been slowly replaced by the official neologism "Valencian Community"). Reversely, left-leaning Valencianists prefer the traditional term País Valencià or "Valencian Country" (see Names of the Valencian Community).

The Valencian Nationalist Bloc (Valencian: Bloc Nacionalista Valencià, Bloc or BNV; IPA: [ˈblɔɡ nasionaˈlista valensiˈa]) is the largest Valencian nationalist party in the Valencian Country, Spain.

The Bloc's main aim is, as stated in their guidelines, "to achieve full national sovereignty for the Valencian people, and make it legally declared by a Valencian sovereign Constitution allowing the possibility of association with the countries which share the same language, history and culture".[1] For the 2011 Valencian Regional elections, they stood in an electoral new coalition called Coalició Compromís and won six seats in the regional parliament. For the local election of the same year they maintain the coalition and reach more than 300 seats and at the 2011 Spanish General Election this coalition won historically a seat in the Spanish parliament.

Development of Valencianism[edit]

In its origins in the second half of the twentieth century, Valencianism was a popularist and heterogeneous movement, which grouped together regionalists and supporters of Valencian foral civil law. Support for Vaalencianism has been strongest in the city of Valencia and in the areas immediately surrounding it.

The early Valencianists[edit]

It is widely considered that the first Valencianist movement is born in 1907, at the Regionalist Assembly, promoted by Lo rat penat. Based in the exposition of Faustí Barberà on its 1902 speech, "de regionalisme i valentinicultura", many regionalist and independentist think-thank groups were born. Basically, the early Valencianism had the Land of Valencia as their only national mark, but also worked together with the nationalists of the lands of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands promoting closest ties with those nationalities who shared language and culture with Valencia.

Fuster and his critics[edit]

The ideas expressed by Joan Fuster in his 1962 essay Nosaltres, els valencians ("We, the Valencians") were very influential among Catalan nationalists during the 1960s and early 1970s. Fuster's thesis was that the Valencians and the Catalans form part of the same nationality. In his words,

"It isn't that the Valencian flag should be the same as the Catalan. It is the same. Same as with the language, and so many other things."

The Catalanist type of Valencianism originally stems from this analysis, even though it acknowledges it has been mostly overridden by the current political scenario, very different from that of the Spanish transition to democracy, when Fuster's ideas had its controversial popularity peak.

Conservative Valencianism not only rejects the thesis of a common nationality (flag, language, culture, etc.) but also promotes symbols of a distinct Valencian nationality from the Catalan one.

The democratic transition[edit]

Some observers warned as early as in 1976 that the transition to democracy, and particularly the economic problems of the time, could radicalize the conservative positions of a part of the right.[2] The first public attacks against a perceived pan-Catalanism of the left-wing parties occurred in the run up to the first democratic elections, in June 1977,[3] and there were a number of violent attacks on left-wing activists and bookshops from this time on.

In terms of democratic politics, the party which most closely espoused the valencianist cause was the centre-right Unión de Centro Democrático (UCD), which was in power nationally (under Adolfo Suárez) but which trailed the socialists in Valencia and Alicante. The first speech attacking pancatalanism came in December 1977 from Emilio Attard, its leader in the province of Valencia. Manuel Broseta, another leading member of the UCD, published an influential essay "Paella and the Catalan Countries" a few months later, the first in a substantial series of anticatalanist articles to appear in the newspaper Las Provincias.[4] The UCD would defend, with some success, a staunchly valencianist position throughout the negotiations leading up to the first Statute of Autonomy.

Valencian autonomy[edit]

The Consell del País Valencià was established by Royal Decree on 17 March 1978 and held its first meeting at the Monastery of El Puig on 10 April. All four main parties—the UCD, the postfranquists of the Alianza Popular, the socialists of the PSOE and the communists (PCE)—were represented, and all signed a call for Valencian autonomy on 8 October, the eve of the Valencian national day.[5] After the approval of the Spanish Constitution in December 1978, the Consell approved the first draft of a Statute of Autonomy at its meeting in Morella on 9 January 1979: this draft has become known as the "Statute of Morella".

The political climate degraded significantly after the elections of March and April 1979—with some hyperbole, the period has become known as the "Battle of Valencia". The elections gave the left another majority in the parliamentary deputation (PCE, 3; PSOE, 19; UCD, 19) but gave the UCD the majority of seats on the Consell del País Valencià (PCE, 1; PSOE, 7; UCD, 10), which were attributed under a different voting system. It was initially agreed that socialist Josep-Lluís Albinyana should rest as President of the Consell but the tensions between left and right were such that Albinyana was ousted after a vote of censure on 22 December 1979. The UCD accused Albinyana of using his position as President of the Consell to bounce through a Statute of Autonomy without consensus, while the socialists accused the UCD of wanting to reopen the consensus reached at Morella. There were elements of truth in both positions, and the close balance of electoral strength made the arguments particularly virulent.

As a result of the tensions in regional politics and of a certain number of developments at the national level, the Statute of Autonomy remained deadlocked throughout 1980, despite petitions in favour of Valencian autonomy from 529 of the 542 municipalities. The Valencian parliamentarians took the matter in hand after the failed military coup of 23 February 1981 (during which the city of Valencia suffered several hours of military occupation), producing a compromise draft Statute known as the "Statute of Benicàssim". It is this draft, along with a set of amendments proposed by the UCD and the communists, which was submitted for approval to the Cortes Generales in Madrid.

The Statute of Benicàssim was modified in favour of valencianist held positions by the Constitutional Committee of the Congress of Deputies, where the UCD held a majority.[6] However Article 1 of the modified text, which named the autonomous community as the "Kingdom of Valencia", was rejected by the full Chamber (for, 151; against, 161; abstentions, 9) on 9 March 1982 and the text returned to the Constitutional Committee. A final compromise resulted in the name "Valencian Community": the Statute of Autonomy entered into force on 1 July 1982.

Valencianist positions[edit]

The positions associated with Valencianism have varied somewhat since the return to democracy, depending on the direction of the supposed "threat". Some Valencianists positions have become mainstream (e.g., the flag), some have lost their association with Valencianism (e.g., role of the autonomous institutions) while some have become more associated with valencianism, and more hotly debated (e.g., the Valencian language).

Flag of the autonomous community[edit]

Main article: Flag of Valencia

The question of which flag should be used to represent the Valencian Community is at the origin of the name "Valencianism", which is derived from the Valencian "blava", meaning "blue". The origin of the dispute can be traced to Fuster's "Nosaltres els valencians", where he claims that Valencians and Catalans have always shared the same flag (the Senyera) and that Valencian groups who had used different flags in the years before Franco "knew not what they did" (no sabien el que es feien, p. 26). The Senyera in its simplest form—sometimes referred to as the quatribarrada—gained a certain (but not overwhelming) support in Valencianist circles, and was on view at the march in favour of autonomy of 9 October 1977.

The Statute of Morella proposed that the flag of the autonomous community be the Senyera with the royal coat of arms at the centre (those of Peter III of Aragon (1336–87), who did much to formalize the autonomy of the Kingdom of Valencia within the Crown of Aragon). This was adopted as the flag of the Consell del País Valencià on 24 April 1979: however the decision was seen as a provocation by the UCD,[7] coming as it did after elections which would have given the centre-right a majority on the Consell but before the new Consell could be constituted.

The more Valencianist groups seized the opportunity provided by the tense political climate: the flags of the Valencia Town Hall were burnt by demonstrators on 9 October 1979,[8] far from the only act of political violence that year.

The socialist representative left the Consell on 22 December 1979 and the choice of flag was reversed on 14 January 1980. The Valencianists continued to insist that the flag of the new autonomous community be recognisably different from that of any other, and particularly that of Catalonia (the Senyera in its simplest form). The Statute of Benicàssim proposed a new design, but the UCD representative on the Constitutional Committee of the Congress of Deputies managed to impose an amendment making the flag of the autonomous community the same as that of the city of Valencia (for, 17; against, 16; abstention, 1) which includes the blue fringe (the Senyera Coronada).

Since the adoption of the first Statute of Autonomy, the issue has lost much of its controversy. The use of the Senyera coronada has a wide acceptance within the Valencian Community, although some small groups on the left of the political spectrum (e.g. Els Verds, ERPV) continue to refer to it as the "blavera" and the Senyera quatribarrada can be seen from time to time, particularly in the districts furthest from the capital.

Name of the autonomous community[edit]

The question of the name of the autonomous community was initially seen as fairly minor compared to the debates over the flag and the powers which would be granted to the Generalitat Valenciana. However it became the issue which almost caused the rejection of the Statute of Autonomy by the Congress of Deputies in 1982.

At the start of the democratic transition Valencian: País Valencià, Spanish: Pais Valenciano (roughly translated as "Valencian Country") seemed to enjoy a wide consensus. It was under this name that the Consell del País Valencià was established, and it was this name which was used in the Call for Autonomy of 8 October 1978, signed by both the UCD and by the postfranquists of the Alianza Popular.

The blaverist view, minority even on the right at first, was that the term País Valencià implied an identification with the Països Catalans, an anathema to the valencianists. In the context of the political tensions of 1979–80, they called ever more loudly for the alternative name Regne de València ("Kingdom of Valencia").

Valencian language[edit]

Main article: Valencian language

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Lluch, Ernest (1976). La via valenciana. València: Tres i Quatre.
  3. ^ Giner Boira, Vicente. "El día 16 dejarás de ser valenciano, serás catalán." Las Provincias, 12 June 1977.
  4. ^ Broseta, Manuel (1979) Som valencians. Selección de colaboraciones periodísticas publicadas desde 1974 hasta 1979 en el periódico Las Provincias de Valencia. València: Las Provincias.
  5. ^ The 9 October is celebrated in the Valencian Community in commemoration of the entry of James I of Aragon into the city of Valencia on 9 October 1238, immediately after the Reconquista.
  6. ^ Ruiz Monrabal (2003) gives a long discussion of the debates in the Constitutional Committee on 29 December 1981, debates in which he participated as a UCD Deputy for Valencia.
  7. ^ Ruiz Monrabal (2003, p. 397)
  8. ^ While it is sometimes said that on the flag of the Consell was burnt (by a small incendiary device catapulted from the street), Ruiz Monrabal (2003, p. 397) insists that the flags of Spain and of the city of Valencia burned as well.

References[edit]

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