Spanish deputies listen to the translation into Castilian of a speech in the regional language, in Madrid, September 19. SUSANA VERA / REUTERS
For the first time, Catalan, Basque and Galician were used on Tuesday September 19 in the Spanish Parliament. The event immediately caused tensions, with the far right denouncing a new concession from the Sanchez government to the Catalan separatists.
As a sign of protest, the deputies of the ultranationalist Vox formation left the hemicycle during the intervention in Galician of a deputy of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) of Pedro Sanchez and returned the headphones allowing them to follow the simultaneous translation in Castilian (Spanish).
“We do not want to be complicit in this breakdown of our coexistence”declared, in the corridors of Parliament, Maria José Millan, president of the Vox parliamentary group, a fiercely anti-independence group. “We will not use translators to communicate with people [des villes espagnoles] from Salamanca, Barcelona or Vigo »she added in a message published on X (formerly Twitter).
The main right-wing party, the Popular Party (PP), demanded from the start of the session that these languages not be used before the change in Parliament’s regulations is formally approved on Thursday.
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Co-official language status
MPs from the far-right Vox party placed the headphones broadcasting the simultaneous translation into Castilian of speeches in regional languages, at the Spanish Parliament, in Madrid, on September 19, 2023. Symbolically, they placed the devices on the Prime Minister’s desk , Pedro Sanchez, absent during the session. SUSANA VERA / REUTERS
The use in plenary sessions within the Spanish Parliament of Catalan, Basque and Galician is a long-standing demand of the nationalist parties of these regions. But it was obtained in mid-August by Carles Puigdemont’s Catalan independence party, Junts per Catalunya (“Together for Catalonia”), in exchange for its crucial support for the socialist’s election to the presidency of the Spanish Parliament. Francina Armengol.
Catalan, Basque and Galician have co-official language status in Spain, where Castilian is the only official language throughout the country. This means that, alongside Castilian, they are the official language in Catalonia (north-east), the Basque Country (north) and Galicia (north-west), taught at school and used in administration and in the within the regional parliament.
“It’s a historic day (…) finally, the rights of Catalan-speaking people will be respected here”greeted in Catalan Miriam Nogueras, president of the parliamentary group of the Catalan party.
The party of the former Catalan regional president, Mr. Puigdemont (who fled to Belgium to escape legal prosecution), also demanded that the government seek recognition of Catalan, Basque and Galician as official languages of the ‘European Union.
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Lack of clear majority
This request was debated on Tuesday by European ministers for European affairs, who raised objections and called for more time to decide.
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The votes of deputies from Mr. Puigdemont’s party will be essential to Mr. Sanchez if he wants to be returned to power in the coming weeks. Mr. Puigdemont notably requested in exchange amnesty for separatists prosecuted by the courts for the 2017 secession attempt.
The legislative elections of July 23 did not produce a clear majority.
Coming in first during the legislative elections of July 23, the leader of the Partido Popular (PP), Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, was instructed by the king, Felipe VI, to present his candidacy for the post of prime minister next week before Parliament . But a priori it has no chance of achieving this, in the absence of a clear majority.
Mr. Sanchez, who came second in the ballot but better able to gather a majority thanks to the support of regionalist parties, will then have two months to present his candidacy in turn. If he fails to be invested by Parliament, new elections will have to be called.
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