Xabier Arzalluz

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Xabier Arzalluz.

Xabier Arzalluz Antia (born 24 August 1932)[1] is a Basque nationalist politician, who was the leader of the Basque Nationalist Party from 1979 until 2004. He is a nationalist and a Christian Democrat. He was also the most powerful politician in Basque Country, and made all strategic decisions in the Basque Nationalist Party from 1986 onwards.

Early years[edit]

Arzalluz was born in Azkoitia, Gipuzkoa.[2] From a Carlist family, he studied in a Jesuit school in Durango. During the 1960s, he received degrees in Law and Philosophy at the University of Zaragoza. He spent some time in Frankfurt-am-Main preparing a thesis on German Christian Democracy and studying Theology.

Back in the Basque Country, he became a Jesuit priest. After another period in Frankfurt and Madrid, he worked at the Jesuit University of Deusto.

In 1969, he joined the clandestine Basque Nationalist Party, mentored by the pre-war leader Juan de Ajuriaguerra. In 1971, he was admitted to the leadership of the Biscayne branch.[2] He was laicized and got married.

Spanish transition to democracy[edit]

In 1977 and 1979, he was elected as a member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies for the PNV in Gipuzkoa. His talks with Adolfo Suarez paved the way to the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country, contributing to its wording. He designed accordingly a strategy for the party along the lines of that Statute, called the Spirit of Arriaga.

In 1979, he resigned his seat and succeeded Carlos Garaikoetxea as PNV leader, a position that he would hold until 2004. During his rule the PNV maintained its dominant position in the political life of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country.

Later career[edit]

Later in the 1980s, Garaikoetxea, the ruling lehendakari, struggled for autonomy from the party. Arzalluz, however, asserted the authority of the organization over individual members. This issue, among others, led in 1984 to a schism within the PNV, and to the creation of a new party Eusko Alkartasuna, led by Garaikoetxea.[3]

Arzalluz was the main spokesman for the Basque Nationalist Party, publishing his opinions every Sunday in the Basque newspaper Deia and in many public speeches during PNV rallies, some of which took place on Party Day and on the Day of the Basque Homeland. While liked by PNV voters, he was the least popular party leader among the general Spanish public in 1997.[4]

He had a reciprocal admiration for the Italian Christian Democrat leaders Francesco Cossiga and Giulio Andreotti. In spite of his contacts with European Christian Democrats, the PNV had to leave the Christian Democrat International in the 1990s because of pressure from the Spanish conservative People's Party.

Besides his political role, he had also been a professor of Constitutional Law (in the Basque language) at the University of Deusto in Bilbao until 1999.


  1. ^ "Parliamentary assembly, Council of Europe". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Xabier Arzalluz". Biografías y Vidas (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Ormazabal, Mikel (12 January 2013). "Un partido al mismo compás". El País (in Spanish). Ediciones El País. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Staff (6 January 1997). "González, el líder más valorado, aventaja en dos centésimas a Aznar". El Mundo (in Spanish). Unidad Editorial Información General S.L.U. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 

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