Friday, 18 July 2008

ENG: Catalan in the Constitutional Court

On August 9, 2006, the new statute of autonomy (l’Estatut) of Catalonia officially came into power, but still today many aspects of the Generalitat's new authority reamain to be developed. This is largely due to a need to agree on all details, where the Spanish state does not see the same urgency as Catalan politicians do to reach agreements. Other reforms can only be carried out after changes have been made to how public funds are shared among the autonomous communities, another process which has started but is expected to take time. Finally, seven articles of the text are currently being examined by the Spanish Constitutional Court (CC) to establish whether they are constitutional or not.

The role of the Catalan language is one of the areas where CC might want to make clarifications. Fortunately enough for those of us who support the existing integrated and bilingual school system of Catalonia, it is unlikely that CC demands this to be changed for one where students can choose between Spanish or Catalan. However, there seem to be reluctance to acknowledge Catalan the status as the preferential language (lengua de uso normal y preferente, in Spanish) of the administration and judiciary.

Personally, one the one hand, I consider it natural that civil servants be operational in Catalan, but at the same time would not want for the courts to run bigger back-logs of pending cases than they already do, by demanding that judges give priority to documenting their language level. Since here CC’s revision is rather about how to interpret the text than its actual wording, I trust that common sense will prevail.

And, in the end, the article in LaVanguardia which inspired this entry suggests that this is all politics. Or was it pure coincidence that the Manifiesto por la lengua común happened to be issued when CC started to discuss the role of the Catalan language?
- - -

Up-Date: Maybe I should stop being irritated with myself for not having understood the implementation process of the Estatut. In Avui today (July 21, 2008), Iu Forn makes an ironic comment about how difficult it would be to explain it to someone from Mars.
- - -

Acknowledgement: Thanks to a comment from a reader, I have been able to improve on the quality of this text. Personally I do not yet understand how big modifications CC can possibly make, so further support on that matter, as well as all other corrections, are highly appreciated.
- - -

Related media: LaVanguardia 1 2
- - -

Technorati tags: Bilingualism, Catalonia, Spain,


Tonet said...

Hi Erik:

Actually, this Statute of Autonomy is ALREADY in force, and this since August 9, 2006.

The Constitutional Court is set to have an ex post word on some of its features, but this basic law has been the basic law of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia for almost two years now.

Erik Wirdheim said...

Thank you for this first step of a clarification, Tonet.

And I guess that it is the political discussion which is confusing me: if the statute is fully in place, why is there so many comments of the style "in case the CC blocks the Estatut", on the one hand and "we demand the Estatut to be fully implemented" on the other?

I would be highly grateful if you could inform me of good sources of information (i.e. except for my beloved Wikipedia).

As soon as I understand this all better, I will come back with a correction.

And, above all, thanks for questioning what I write. I wish that I would have more readers like you.


tonet said...

I think your informed-ness today is something I can't even think of matching. What I can recommend is that you go to the sources:

There you will see how it all functions. I mean, our overall tradition stems from Roman/Napoleonic administrative traditions (with, alas, some dictatorial glazing), so it will be super easy to understand in no-time.

The confusion you are referring to is perfectly logical and it affects most of our fellow citizens as well. This relates to the primary and overarching politization of the Spanish constitutional setting, where we lack (among many other things) a clearcut separation of powers. Any real autonomous move is under suspicion.


Erik Wirdheim said...


Thanks for the reading tips. I guess it will keep me busy for a while! ;-)