Multilingual Spain is making its way today in Congress. Starting at 12 noon, the first plenary session of the legislature will mark the debut of Catalan, Basque and Galician as full languages, on par with Spanish. From today, deputies will be able to carry out all their parliamentary functions, not only oral interventions, but also the presentation of writings, in any of the four co-official languages. Your choice. A team of interpreters hired by the Lower House will ensure that everyone present in the chamber can follow the interventions, in real time, through translation headphones.
In order for Congress to function in four languages, it is necessary to reform the regulations. That is the only point of the day that will be addressed in the two plenary sessions this week –today and Thursday–, in which the bill promoted by the PSOE, Sumar, ERC, EH Bildu, PNV and BNG will be debated and approved. . Its 171 deputies plus the seven from Junts guarantee that the measure will go ahead without problem. Hence, the Congress Board, in which the PSOE and Sumar have a majority, already agreed last week – despite the opposition of the PP – that the co-official languages could be used from today, without waiting for the process of reforming the regulations.
This is what most parliamentary groups will do. Today's plenary session will be a demonstration of the linguistic diversity of Spain and an opportunity to normalize what is already the daily reality in many territories of the country. The photograph of the day will be that of your honors with a earring in your ear during part of the interventions, today and Thursday.
The president of Congress, Francina Armengol from the Balearic Islands, could open the plenary session speaking in Catalan, Basque or Galician. Maybe she will do it, maybe she will leave the spotlight to the groups. Among the promoters of the reform, deputies from the PSC and PSdeG will speak for the Socialist Group, in Catalan and Galician. Sumar (Marta Lois and Gerardo Pisarello) will also use the co-official languages, while for ERC Gabriel Rufián will speak in Catalan and for Junts Míriam Nogueras will speak. Mertxe Aizpurua and Bel Pozueta (EH Bildu) and Joseba Agirretxea (PNV) will speak Basque, and Néstor Rego (BNG) will speak Galician. The PP and Vox will speak in Spanish. “We are not going to play tricks,” said the popular spokesperson, Borja Sémper, yesterday.
The lawyers of Congress, who recognize the right of deputies to use official languages other than Spanish, did not object to the initiative being processed directly and in a single reading. They only warned that in the short term it would be “very difficult” to use the co-official languages, since the reform affects the “entire functioning of the Chamber.”
But Congress has taken the lead. A directory of 12 translators who have already worked for the Senate has been prepared, and will hire those who are needed, depending on the session calendar. There will be six for today's plenary session, explain sources from the Presidency of Congress. These professionals, who will not be in the chamber, are autonomous, not staff. The cost is unknown, according to the aforementioned sources, since it depends on the number and duration of the sessions, but they will be minor contracts, not exceeding 15,000 euros. In the Senate, the cost of translators is calculated by plenary session and is 12,000 euros.
As for the material, Congress already has 200 simultaneous translation headsets and another 450 have been purchased, at a cost of 7,600 euros, to distribute to deputies, journalists, authorities and the attending public. We must add the radio frequency services, maintenance and belt packs, which have been contracted until December 31 at a cost of 46,000 euros.