FPEV with the collaboration of the renowned specialist Jaime Ignacio del Burgo, addresses in a new book "The epic story of the historical privileges of the Basque Provinces and Navarre” a -complete, detailed, objective- history of the vicissitudes suffered by the privileges of Navarre and the Basque Provinces since the fall of Old Regime to the 1978 Constitution.
The author is supported by many years of research and reflection on this topic. Regarding publications, in 1968 he published "Origin and foundation of the foral regime of Navarre" and later, in 2010, studied in depth one of its stages in the book "Cánovas and economic agreements, agony, death and resurrection of the Basque historical privileges”.
But obviously Jaime Ignacio del Burgo biography and experience in relation to the historical privileges of Navarre reaches far beyond the scholarly knowledge.
For the author the "foral problem", which affected Navarre and the Basque provinces, came at the very moment of the birth of the Constitution of 1812, which established a uniform and centralised organisation of the Spanish Monarchy which was incompatible with the survival of the old Kingdom of Navarre and, to a large extent, with historical privileges of the provinces of Alava, Guipuzcoa and Biscay. Two of the three carlist wars, 1833-1840 and 1872-1876, had a great influence in the crisis of the historical privileges of the Basque Provinces and Navarre.
The Constitution of Cadiz laid the foundation of the nation state that we know today. After defining the Spanish Nation as "the collectivity of the Spaniards of both hemispheres" (Article 1), it proclaimed that "the Spanish Nation is free and independent, and neither is nor can be the patrimony of any person or family" (Article 2). Consistent with this, the Constitution stated that "sovereignty resides essentially in the Nation, and by the same the right belongs to this one exclusively to establish its fundamental laws" (Article 3). In 1812 the end of absolute monarchy was decreed. The king was stripped of sovereignty. Henceforth, the law would be the result of the will of the nation represented in Parliament, elected by vote.
Nothing to object to all the previous pronouncements at all. However, we must deplore the fact that the Constitution of Cadiz aimed to link the Spanish nation to an absolutely centralized state. Cadiz constituents were firmly convinced that centralization and progress were inseparable concepts.
The triumph of constitutionalism of Cadiz supposed that both Navarre and the Basque provinces lost their historical privileges. But the liberal revolution did not win overnight.
The restoration of Fernando VII after the end of the War of Independence triggered a series of political events: the repeal of the 1812 Constitution, the revolt of Riego (1820), the war that followed that revolt and concluded with the "liberation" in 1823 of the absolute monarch, and the three carlist wars (1833-1840, 1848-1849 and 1872-1876) that avoided the consolidation of the liberal regime, which managed to definitively settle with the enactment of the 1876 Constitution.
In the midst of this tragic political storm, the end of the old Kingdom of Navarre occurred, definitely accomplished in 1841 although tempered by the so called “Ley Paccionada” (Agreement Law) which derived from the “Ley de confirmación de Fueros” or Law on confirmation of historical privileges of 1839, that provided the "province " with a singular self-governing regime, fundamentally in economic terms. At first, despite huge difficulties, the Basque Provinces managed overcome the harmful effects of constitutionalism for the historical privileges of Alava, Guipuzcoa and Biscay. But at the end of the third carlist war, the Law of 1876 abolished the Basque historical privileges. However, it didn’t prevent the introduction of a substitute of that system: the regime of Economic Agreement, which in time would be revealed as an effective instrument for economic and social development of the Provinces.
Nevertheless, both in Navarre and the Basque Provinces it soon emerged a desire to fight for the "reintegration of historical privileges", demanding the central government the entire restoration of their ancient political system. A feeling that was born in the late nineteenth century and developed with great intensity in the first third of the twentieth century.
Several attempts to form a common Basque-Navarre front emerged to negotiate with the government to restore their old political system. And it could have been so, if the emergence of Basque nationalism had not occurred in the last years of the nineteenth century, whose ultimate objective is to create an independent Basque nation.
It was only the Spanish Constitution of 1978 which put an end to the “foral problem”. It recognized the historical rights of those territories and opened a door to each of them to restore their ancient political systems. Only Navarre accepted and negotiated with the State a new agreement that was added to the legal system by the Law on the Reintegration and Enhancement of the Foral Regime of Navarre of 1982. Neither Alava, Guipuzcoa nor Biscay did. They decided to create in 1979, under the Spanish Constitution, an autonomous region whose statutory subject is the "Basque Country" or Euskal Herria, from which powers of the Basque Country or Euskadi emanate.
"The epic story of the historical privileges of the Basque Provinces and Navarre " is a story about the "foral problem" a serious political problem that began in 1812, found its solution in the Constitution of 1978 and concluded in the Basque Provinces with the defeat in 1979 of the historical privileges at the hands of constitutional autonomy and in Navarre with the victory of the old system’s reintegration in 1982.