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THE WEEK AHEAD

BILBAO : Basque Ballot Test

October 18, 1994

Elections Sunday in Spain's northern Basque region will test separatist sentiment and the strength of Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez's flagging Socialist Party. The restive Basque area, one of 17 autonomous regions in post-Franco Spain, is home to ETA separatist terrorists whose drive for independence has claimed more than 700 lives in the last 25 years.

In a seven-party race, ETA's political arm is battling to hold on to its 13 seats in the 75-member regional parliament.

Oddsmakers favor the more moderate Basque National Party, which they say will probably form a third consecutive coalition with the local branch of the Socialist Party, which is eager to reverse Gonzalez's poor nationwide showing in European parliamentary elections last June.

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