THE resignation of a moderate nationalist politician has led to fears of a urge in pro-independence feelings in the Basque Country.

Josu Jon Imaz stepped down as leader of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) after claims of divisions within the party.

Many analysts fear this could lead to an increase in separatist sentiments in the region.

“The moderate, pragmatic, deal-making figure of Imaz is departing the PNV, leaving the party open to radicals,” former PNV member Joseba Arregi told newspaper El Mundo.

The PNV is considered by many Spaniards to be the accepted face of Basque nationalism, whose extreme is separatist group Eta, which has killed more than 800 people since 1960.

Critics of Imaz within the region have slammed his moderate stance on independence from Spain.