Congress successfully inaugurates a multilingual legislature, despite the rejection of the right

“This is the temple of the word,” stressed the president of Congress, Francina Armengol.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 September 2023 Monday 16:20
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Congress successfully inaugurates a multilingual legislature, despite the rejection of the right

“This is the temple of the word,” stressed the president of Congress, Francina Armengol. And the word, in Spain, is expressed in Spanish, but also in Catalan, Basque or Galician. Now also in the Lower House, “to make us understand the citizens who listen to us,” Armengol has defended. “Diversity is not to the detriment of unity, uniformity does not guarantee cohesion,” Xosé Ramón Gómez Besteiro, socialist deputy for Lugo and former leader of the PSdeG, later argued, who was grateful for the opportunity to be the first parliamentarian in power. use in democracy, from the tribune, their mother tongue, Galician, to “normalize in this Chamber what is already normal for millions of citizens.” “A historic day,” agreed many of the parliamentary spokespersons who spoke in this first plenary session of a multilingual legislature.

Despite the opposition of the Popular Party and the loud protest of the far-right Vox, the Congress of Deputies has successfully inaugurated a multilingual legislature this Tuesday – without any impact on the translation and subtitling of the co-official languages ​​and on the use of headphones -, with a first plenary session in which their honorable Members were able to debate in Spanish, but also in Catalan, Basque and Galician, the taking into consideration of the proposal to reform the regulations of the Lower House that will allow them to do so, now with complete normality, in all his parliamentary activity from now on. Also in the investiture debate to which the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, will appear next week, which will give way, if he fails as planned, to the turn of the leader of the PSOE, Pedro Sánchez.

The absolute majority of 178 votes that make up the groups proposing the initiative –PSOE, Sumar, Esquerra, EH Bildu, the PNV and the BNG-, with the support of Junts per Catalunya, has opened the doors wide to this first multilingual legislature in Spain, despite the opposition of the PP and the abandonment of the far-right Vox chamber. The Congressional reform law proposal thus passed its first step this Tuesday – taking it into consideration – with 176 votes in favor and 169 against. Its express processing, with a single reading, has added an even larger absolute majority of 179 votes in favor and 171 against: those of the PP, Vox and UPN.

Even before the Galician socialist Besteiro has taken the floor in his language, which he has alternated with Spanish, the PP spokesperson, Cuca Gamarra, sitting next to the also Galician Feijóo, has raised a point of order to the president of Congress, to demand compliance with the law, since the use of all co-official languages ​​has been launched in this plenary session before the bill that authorizes it is taken into consideration, debated, voted on and published in the BOE. will allow, as he has reported.

President Armengol has replied that the reconsideration proposed by the PP cannot stop the plenary session, which has thus continued its course. Then, the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal, rose from his seat and left the chamber, followed by all the extreme right deputies. When leaving, they contemptuously threw their headphones on Pedro Sánchez's empty seat, and many of them fell to the floor, so that the ushers had to scramble to pick them up. The socialist Besteiro was able to continue his intervention then, and celebrated that, despite the protest from the right, what he considered "a certain historical anomaly" can be overcome, starting today, and that Spain and its institutions can advance in the recognition of its multilingual reality.

Sumar's spokesperson, Marta Lois, has also spoken in Galician, alternating it with Spanish. “The possibility of speaking in one language does not negate the others,” she defended. And the ERC spokesperson, Gabriel Rufián, then celebrated that he can now express his speech, in its entirety, in Catalan. “Do you see how speaking in other languages ​​that we break with the right is not so bad?” Rufián ironically said.

Mertxe Aizpurua (EH Bildu) and Joseba Agirretxea (PNV) then spoke in their same mother tongue, Basque. “Those who have left are the same ones who previously kicked us out of class, fined us or put us in jail for speaking Basque. Now they are gone. We have made some progress,” Agirretxea celebrated, after the departure of the Vox deputies. And the BNG spokesperson, Nestor Rego, has also done so in Galician, with another intervention entirely in his own language.

In the interventions contrary to the reform of the Congressional regulations, the PP's strategy has been, to say the least, contradictory. After Gamarra, on behalf of his group, rejected the use of co-official languages ​​before the initiative had been approved, Borja Sémper took the stand and made part of his speech in Basque, which caused the deputies to of Vox will once again leave the chamber. The popular deputy has thus defended, in Spanish and Basque, linguistic diversity in Spain, but he has accused the proponents of the initiative, and particularly the socialist group, of “disdaining the common language.” He has defended “the coexistence of languages ​​without confrontation” and has rejected the “interested patrimonialization” of co-official languages ​​in this debate. “In Spain we are lucky to have a common language, which is Spanish,” Sémper concluded.