Editorial, 24 March 2022
The President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, leads the Government’s II Work Day, with all the regional ministers at the Pedralbes Palace. Government / ACN
For the first time in many years, the Parliament of Catalonia has given us news of true unity. The vast majority of deputies (106 out of 135) have agreed on a major issue: the use of the Catalan and Spanish languages at school. The two large pro-independence groups, ERC and Junts, have agreed with the PSC and the Comuns, supporters of the unity and plurality of Spain, to amend the law to maintain the validity of Catalan as the vehicular language in education without prejudice to the ruling which requires compliance with 25% of Spanish in the classroom. The language is saved from the division. As is sadly known, since the Constitutional Court cut the new Statute in 2010, Catalan politics has been fragmented into two blocks, which has caused great damage to the Catalan economy and social humor.
Catalonia is polarized, stressed, sour. Human relations among Catalan politicians deteriorated profoundly (especially when the procés leaders were imprisoned and sentenced), a deterioration that also affected family and social relations. Although an Ulster-style fracture did not occur (despite the fact that some, in both blocs, sought it), an invisible but perceptible wall separates people and cultural groups.
With the agreement of ERC and Junts with PSC and Comuns, the language is saved from the division
This climate has seriously affected the social pact that, during the last years of Francoism and the first years of democracy and autonomy, was formalized in Catalonia around the language and equality of the Catalans. That pact, which crystallized in the method of immersion in school, was encouraged by the left, which pursued Catalan civil unity and linked it to social progress; and it was assumed by Pujolism, which, over the years, colored it with essentialism. That pact needed to be renewed because now, converted into a supposed “Catalan school model”, it no longer responded to a consensus, but rather to a shared vision. It is good, in this sense, that the independence movement accepts the 25% quota. It was imposed, remember, by the TSJC, given that the Government turned a deaf ear to the demand of the TC to introduce some form, which did not detail, of vehicularity of Castilian. This concession of the independence movement (which Minister Cambray will have to assume) makes it easier for the PSC and the commons to renew their participation in the consensus. PP and Cs are missing, unfortunately far from this new pact, since the technique of immersion, so demonized, has the endorsement of the Constitutional. Likewise, it is to be hoped that JxCat’s last statements about possible modifications of the pact will not dilute the agreement. We trust that they will not back down, frustrating a predominant desire for unity in Catalan society.
The pro-independence appropriation of Catalan (which the CUP’s demand for unilingualism exemplifies) is being a cure worse than the evil it claims to cure. Certainly: the Catalan language is experiencing a delicate moment, damaged by two unforeseeable factors years ago. On the one hand, cultural globalization: audiovisual content platforms give prestige and favor languages with many millions of speakers, such as English and Spanish; on the other, the approximately one and a half million immigrants who have settled in Catalonia in recent decades tend to socialize only in Spanish. Consensus is essential to try to reverse the decline of Catalan language, which, as Spanish, the Constitution urges to protect. And such a consensus is as important within Catalonia as it is in the whole of Spain. It is essential that the PP join the consensus if it does not want to once again turn the wound of cultural plurality into a factor of electoral growth, but also into a focus of infinite tension that Spain, faced with the challenges of today’s world (covid, war, inflation), cannot afford.