Controversy over the use of Galician, Catalan and Basque

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 5 18:09:36 UTC 2005

Controversy continues over the use of Galician, Catalan and Basque in the
Spanish Lower House
Alexandre Giraldez in Cangas 3/3/2005

The Spanish Lower Houses president, socialist Manuel Marn, will no longer
allow a word of Galician, Basque and Catalan in MPs speeches. In so doing
he is declaring invalid the rules he settled only three weeks ago which
allowed for the use of these co-official languages. The Catalan, Basque
and Galician national parties, together with the left wing IU, has
criticised Marn in a new episode of a linguistic battle which has occupied
political parties for months.

>>From now on, and until a new agreement is reached between the political
groups on the use of co-official languages, I will only admit speeches in
Spanish, as set by the Lower Houses regulations, stated Marn. According to
the president, some members of the Parliament have abused the right to
speak in Galician, Basque and Catalan. This right consisted of making
brief statements and translating them immediately afterwards.

A few days before Marn had to stop the Catalan ERC MPa, Joan Tard, saying
that he had spoken in Catalan too long. I spoke only for 19 seconds and I
was going to translate into Spanish just when he interrupted me. He has
behaved like a child, said Tard.

Catalan, Galician and Basque national parties, and the left wing IU, have
criticised Marns decision as a step backwards. In contrast, the right-wing
PP has welcomed the ban: it is a situation we expected, said Eduardo
Zaplana, PPs spokesman in the Lower House.

This is the most recent episode in a linguistic fight that for months has
set the various national parties against Marn. The multilingual reality of
the state must be respected in Parliament, they argue. Their demands have,
however, made the president recognise the use of lesser-used languages to
an extent, but only allowing for unofficial usage.

Only a modification of the Lower Houses regulations recognising
co-official languages can guarantee the use of Basque, Catalan and
Galician. The Upper House may move to support a change, but in the Lower
House, the most important in Spain, the main parties do not agree. The PP
are reluctant to say the least, while the governing PSOE are silent.
(Eurolang  2005)

Spanish Lower House:

ERC site:

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