The new model imposed by the state sought approval in Western Europe and was promoted as the key to Spain’s definitive integration into the international community. But there was one main aspect that the reform did not solve: the Basque conflict. As the new constitution had been formed without the consensus of the Basque people, it did not have legitimacy and was disputed by Basque pro-independence forces.

History has shown that there were additional problems. The Spanish transition, which was seen as a model for some international actors (but is called the “Spanish impunity model” by human rights defenders), was in fact a compromise between a strong party (the fascist regime) and a weak opposition. The fascist regime’s crimes against humanity were not investigated and criminals were not prosecuted, and an amnesty law wiped clean the slate of 40 years of criminal and fascist regime history. There was no investigation, nor truth, nor reparation and reconciliation process. Not a single change was effected in the main state powers like the army, police, secret services, justice, or media, all of which deeply affects the development of the Spanish democracy and its institutions, where the same people remained in charge. Thirty years after the end of the Francoist regime, the children and grandchildren of those who lost the civil war and suffered repression and harassment for years are asking for truth, justice, and reparation. A very strong movement in the Basque Country is demanding to know the truth about the civil war and the repression of Franco’s years (e.g. by searching mass graves), as well as the truth about the transition and the compromises adopted (Lau Haizetara Gogoan, 2009).

The nationalist movement also learned about its limitations during that phase. It was not able to collect enough power to make the country’s separation from the Spanish state inevitable. It was far from its theoretical objectives, and, above all, far from the revolutionary patriotism and its bid to lead a total confrontation with the state. It had failed to make the state accept the KAS alternative. In addition, as the EAJ-PNV did not want to take part in that initiative, the attempt to build a single representative of all Basque patriotic forces had failed, too. Still, ETA was convinced that it had enough military capacity and wide enough social support to reject that framework and back KAS’s offer. In the following years, the confrontation between the state and the patriotic left got worse. Some people called those times of a war of attrition “the years of lead”.

Negotiation attempts