Multilingual Spain makes its way to Congress today. From 12:00 p.m., the first plenary session of the legislature will mean the premiere of Catalan, Basque and Galician as full-fledged languages, on an equal footing with Spanish. From today, deputies will be able to perform all their parliamentary functions, not only oral interventions, but also the presentation of written documents, in any of the four co-official languages. They can choose. A team of interpreters hired by the Lower House will ensure that everyone present in the chamber can follow the interventions, in real time, using translation headsets.
In order for the Congress to be able to function in four languages, the regulations must be reformed. This is the only point of the day that will be addressed at the two plenums this week – today and Thursday –, in which the bill promoted by the PSOE, Sumar, ERC, EH Bildu, the PNB will be debated and approved and BNG. Its 171 deputies plus the seven Junts guarantee that the measure will go ahead without a problem. That is why the Congress Bureau, 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 procedure to reform the regulation
This is what most of the parliamentary groups will do. Today's plenary session will be a demonstration of Spain's linguistic diversity and an opportunity to normalize what is already the everyday reality in many territories of the country. The photo of the day will be of their ladies with an earmuff in their ear during part of the interventions, today and Thursday.
The president of the Congress, the Balearic Francina Armengol, could open the plenary session by speaking in Catalan, Basque or Galician. Maybe it does, maybe it leaves the spotlight to the groups. Among the promoters of the reform, deputies from the PSC and the PSdeG will speak for the Socialist group, in Catalan and Galician. Sumar will also use the co-official languages (Marta Lois and Gerardo Pisarello), while ERC Gabriel Rufián will speak in Catalan and Junts Míriam Nogueras. Mertxe Aizpurua and Bel Pozueta (EH Bildu) and Joseba Agirretxea (PNB) will speak in Basque, and in Galician, Néstor Rego (BNG). The PP and Vox will speak in Spanish. "We will not make the peach", said the popular spokesman, Borja Sémper, yesterday.
The lawyers of the Congress, who recognize the right of deputies to use official languages other than Spanish, did not object to the fact that the initiative was 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 "complete functioning of the Chamber".
But the Congress has put the direct. A directory of 12 translators who have already worked for the Senate has been prepared, and it will hire those needed depending on the session calendar. There will be six for today's plenary session, sources from the Presidency of the Congress explain. These professionals, who will not be in the chamber, are self-employed, not employees. The cost has not been made public, according to the sources mentioned, since it depends on the number and duration of the sessions, but they will be small contracts, not exceeding 15,000 euros. In the Senate, the cost of translators is calculated by plenary and is 12,000 euros.
In terms of equipment, Congress already has 200 simultaneous translation headsets and 450 more have been purchased, at a cost of 7,600 euros, to distribute to deputies, journalists, authorities and the attending public. It is necessary to add the radio frequency services, the maintenance and the pouches, which have been contracted, until December 31 at a cost of 46,000 euros.