Lawyer and politician born on June 2, 1938 in Pamplona, in the bosom of a large, Catholic, traditionalist and well-to-do family. He married Sagrario Mina and had 3 children. He speaks Basque, Spanish, English and French.
At the age of eleven he moved to study at the school of the Piarist Fathers in Orendain, Gipuzkoa. In the two years he stayed there he learned the literature of Campión, Iturralde and Oloriz, as well as making his first attempt to learn Basque.
After finishing high school, he moved to the University of Deusto to study at the "Comercial", Faculty of Economics and Law, where he graduated as a lawyer-economist.
In 1961, at the age of 23, he got his first responsible job in the company Sigma, and then went on to work as an economist in the company Tracsa, from where he went on to work as managing director in Eaton Ibérica in Iruñea.
In 1962 he presided over the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Navarre, a position he held until 1972 and had to combine it with other activities, such as the Prince of Viana Institution, the Governing Board of the Santa Casa de Misericordia, the group promoting ikastolas in Nafarroa, etc...
In 1974 he created his own law firm in Iruñea, together with three other professional colleagues. Until then he had not held any position in the PNV, although he was clearly identified with it, and he corresponded with leaders of the Basque Government in exile, such as Manuel de Irujo, who encouraged him to take on managerial responsibilities in the party.
In 1975 he was elected president of the Nafar Buru Batzar, the governing body of the PNV in Navarre. Two years later, specifically in March 1977, and at the proposal of Juan de Ajuriaguerra, he was elected president of the Euzkadi Buru Batzar, with which he would go on to hold the leadership of the PNV.
In the general elections of June 15, 1977, Garaikoetxea headed the electoral coalition called the Autonomist Union of Navarre in which the PNV, ANV and ESB contested the elections. They obtained 18,079 votes, so Garaikoetxea was not elected deputy.
On April 3, 1979 the first elections to the Parliament of Nafarroa were held and in them the PNV contested together with EE, ESEI and PTE, running only in the district of Pamplona. They obtained three parliamentarians, among them Manuel de Irujo and Carlos Garaikoetxea.
His work in the Parliament of Navarre was short, since two months later he was unanimously appointed president of the second Basque General Council, a purely utive pre-autonomous body which had previously been presided over by Ramón Rubial. The most important issues discussed Garaikoetxea and Suarez were the draft Statute, the recovery of the Economic Agreement and the "Navarre question". Navarre, for reasons that we cannot analyze here, did not join the BAC, being a hard blow for Garaikoetxea, who as a Navarrese and Basque advocated and fought for the four Basque territories to join the BAC.
Carlos Garaikoetxea can be considered one of the architects of the 1979 Statute, despite the fact that it did not fulfill all his aspirations. On many occasions he has stated "that it was a matter of shoring up a building in ruins, and that the Statute was useful for the country to have the resources to face those deep deficits and to get out of the fiscal plundering to which it was subjected".
After the approval of the Statute on October 25, 1979, Garaikoetxea was elected Lehendakari in the elections of March 9, 1980. The PNV won the elections with 349,102 votes, 38.1% of the votes and 25 seats.
Garaikoetxea's work during these first four years as Lehendakari was characterized by the construction of the Basque government and institutions. To this end, he appointed Mario Fernández, Pedro Miguel Etxenike and Pedro Luis Uriarte, among others, as advisors to the Basque Government.
During Garaikoetxea's first government, the recovery of the Economic Agreement was achieved, an indispensable instrument to sustain self-government. Besides, the Basque Health Service, Osakidetza, EiTB, whose first broadcasting took place in December 1982, and the Ertzaintza were created. The Basque Government also had to face the gas explosion at the Ortuella school in 1980, in which dozens of children died, or the floods in Bilbao in 1983, situations hitherto unknown which required emergency actions.
On February 26, 1984, the elections to the Basque Parliament took place, which gave way to his second legislature. Carlos Garaikoetxea was re-elected Lehendakari, with a higher percentage than four years earlier. The PNV obtained 451,178 votes, 42.01% of the votes and 7 parliamentarians more than in the previous legislature, 32.
The internal disagreements the Lehendakari and Xabier Arzalluz, president of the EBB, and the governing bodies of the party were increasing during his first legislature. The Law of Historical Territories that was to delimit the competences of the Provincial Councils and the Basque Government, the expulsion of the entire PNV organization in Nafarroa, and the attacks of the Deputy General of Alava, Emilio Guevara, on the Basque Government increased the internal crisis the Lehendakari and the PNV. In December 1984, at the PNV National Assembly, which took place under great tension, Garaikoetxea announced that he did not accept the party's guidelines, and the assembly withdrew its confidence in him, a formula chosen to avoid resignation or expulsion.
In January 1985 José Antonio Ardanza replaced Carlos Garaikoetxea as Lehendakari, but the tensions the sectors related to Garaikoetxea and the governing bodies of the PNV continued until the expulsion of the PNV organization in Vitoria-Gasteiz in August 1986 with Manuel Ibarrondo at the head, which approved on September 4 a new party EA (Eusko Abertzaleak), which would later be called Eusko Alkartasuna. Garaikoetxea and his close sector consummated the split and moved to the new political party.
On November 30, 1986, with hardly time to organize the new party, new elections to the Basque Parliament were held. Garaikoetxea ran at the head of EA, obtaining 181,175 votes, 15.84% of the votes and 13 parliamentary seats, being the fourth political force behind the PNV, PSE-EE and HB.
April 3 and 5, 1987 its constituent congress was held in Iruñea, creating a Basque social democratic and pro-independence party. Carlos Garaikoetxea replaced Manuel Ibarrondo at the head of EA in 1987 and was its president until 1999.
Garaikoetxea was replaced in the Basque Parliament on July 24, 1989 by Miren Agurne Irusta, when Garaikoetxea became an MEP. In the first elections held in the Spanish State to the European Parliament in 1987 EA contested together with ERC and PNG under the name of Coalition for the Europe of the Peoples. In the 1989 European elections Garaikoetxea again won a seat, this time the three previous parties contested under the name Por la Europa de los Pueblos (For the Europe of the Peoples). The second stage as European parliamentarian, in which he was a member of the Rainbow Group of the Parliament, July 25, 1989 and March 14, 1991, was very prolific for Garaikoetxea, since he visited multitude of countries, some of them in process of independence and participated in conferences and meetings in which he could expose to different European leaders the project of the States without nation, among which was Euskal Herria and to try to create a Europe of the nations.
Carlos Garaikoetxea was present in the Basque Parliament during the IV, V and VI legislature, from 1990 to 2001. During these three legislatures he was the spokesman for EA in Parliament. EA began a slow but steady decline, in the 1990 elections it obtained 115,703 votes, 11.83% of the votes and 9 deputies. In the 1994 elections, 105,136 votes, 10.31% of the votes and 8 deputies. In 1998, 108,635 votes, 8.69% of the votes and 6 deputies. During this decade he participated in the Ajuria Enea Table, met several times with José María Aznar when he was President of the Spanish Government and actively participated in the peace process that began with the declaration of Lizarra-Garazi and theETA ceasefire.
Carlos Garaikoetxea left active politics in 1999, being replaced at the head of EA by Begoña Errazti. But this fact did not prevent him from participating and supporting EA in the elections that have subsequently been held.
In 2009 he participated in the presentation of the document "pro accumulation of nationalist forces", together with EA leaders and attended by leaders of the nationalist left.
Currently (2012) Garaikoetxea supports the candidacy of Bildu, a coalition of several political parties including the Abertzale Left, EA, Aralar and Alternativa. Garaikoetxea is also present, this time in a testimonial way, in a new political scenario that has opened in Euskal Herria, with the creation of a left-wing, sovereigntist, pro-independence, progressive and human rights-based coalition.