The regulatory right to use in parliamentary debates in the Congress of Deputies, starting this Tuesday, the three languages that are co-official in their territories – Catalan/Valencian, Basque and Galician – will not be exercised in the same way by all matches. The Catalan independence groups, ERC and Junts per Catalunya, have decided that their deputies will only speak in Catalan, except for specific exceptions; like the BNG deputy, who will only speak in Galician. The Basques PNV and EH Bildu will, however, combine Basque and Spanish, and the Compromís deputy will do something similar, who will use Valencian mostly—but not exclusively. The socialist deputy who will defend the reform of the regulations, Xosé Ramón Gómez Besteiro, will speak in Spanish and Galician. The PP and Vox They are the only parties that have announced that their parliamentarians will continue to use only Spanish, the common language: “We are not going to play tricks,” said the spokesperson for the popular parties, Borja Sémper, this Monday.
The two Catalan independence parties will use Catalan for all purposes in Congress, as officially explained by their parliamentary groups. In the case of Junts, the decision has been made within the bench. The leadership of the Republicans also indicated the use of the co-official language, but within the party there has been some debate: despite the fact that the Republicans have always defended the full use of Catalan in the lower house – the party spokesperson, Raquel Sans, recalled this Monday that up to four presidents of Congress have expelled ERC deputies for using that language in plenary sessions when it was not permitted—some voices have pointed out that we should not give up on getting the independence message to Spanish-speaking Catalans.
An example of the strategy of appealing to that group traditionally resistant to secessionist theses was, in its day, the commitment to Gabriel Rufián. The strong man of ERC in Madrid jumped into national politics from Sumar, an association of pro-independence Spanish speakers. The president of the party, Oriol Junqueras, who has been one of the main supporters of this path of “expanding the base” will be on the Congress platform this Tuesday.
The internal debate in ERC was opened last week by former Congress spokesperson Joan Tardà, with a tweet in which he stated: “We must speak Catalan as a priority in Congress and the Senate, but it is a big mistake to stop promoting independence in Spanish. ”. Sans confirmed this Monday that when “speaking on behalf of ERC” in the Cortes “the commitment” agreed upon by the party leadership is that Catalan be used.
Those responsible for the PNV and EH Bildu say that they will make use of what they call “common sense” and will use Spanish and Basque interchangeably in their interventions this Tuesday and Thursday in Congress, during the debate on the reform of the Regulation that will precisely allow the use of co-official languages. The PNV spokesperson, Aitor Esteban, will speak partly in Basque and partly in Spanish, as he usually does in his press conferences. At EH Bildu they will also combine both languages. This Tuesday the official spokesperson, Mertxe Aizpurua, will speak, and on Thursday the deputy spokesperson and Navarrese deputy, Bel Pozueta. Both will act with “the same bilingual criteria” that they already use in the rest of the autonomous institutions, such as the Basque and Navarrese Parliaments, or in their rallies.
The BNG spokesperson, Néstor Rego, will complete his entire speech in Galician. Until now, Rego used to include references and short phrases in Galician, but in this case he will use the co-official language all the time. The new spokesperson for Compromís, Águeda Micò, plans to formulate almost all of her intervention in Valencian, but she will also speak in Spanish.
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Among the national parties, only the PP and Vox have announced that they will continue using Spanish as a common language. The PSOE will combine languages, at least in this first and symbolic plenary session: it will be the former leader of the Galician socialists, Xosé Ramón Gómez Besteiro, who will speak this Tuesday from the rostrum, and he will do so in Spanish and Galician. The Partit Socialista de Catalunya, party sources explain, has not given any specific guidelines to its 19 deputies on how to exercise their right to express themselves if they wish in Catalan.
PP deputies will not use co-official languages in Congress. “What we are not going to do is cinnamon. We are not going to do strange things,” said Borja Sémper, emphasizing that his objective is for all Spaniards to understand them and not to turn the seat of national sovereignty into a “sounding board” of deputies for deputies. “Tomorrow’s plenary session is not in favor of any language, but in favor of a man, Pedro Sánchez,” said the popular spokesperson, pointing out that the PSOE, which until this legislature had always refused to authorize the use of languages co-officials in Congress, accepts it now only because it needs the votes of the pro-independence parties for Sánchez’s investiture.
The PP, Sémper has said, is not going to support those who understand each other with the common language – Spanish – in the corridors of Congress, in the cafeteria or in Waterloo (in reference to the meeting of the leaders of Sumar and the PNV with Carles Puigdemont in Belgium, where he remains on the run) are forced to put on “headphones” to understand each other in the chamber.
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