The acting vice president and leader of the Spanish progressive party Sumar Yolanda Díaz wants more languages in congressional debates. She proposed reforming bylaws of the Spanish Congress to allow for multilingual discussions.
Díaz, who is also acting Minister of Labour, said in an interview that Sumar had already laid out this proposal to Spanish separatist parties.
The move would allow the so-called “co-official languages of the State” to be used in parliamentary procedures. If congress carries through the reform, Spanish MPs would be able to introduce legislation, present reports and ask questions in Galician, Catalan and Euskera, the traditional Basque language.
“We are negotiating with the Catalans and other groups to advance [Spanish acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s] investiture,” said Díaz. To her, the reform would constitute a “victory for the rights of several identities in our country”.
She added that revising the rules of the Spanish Congress was a Sumar campaign promise. “The bylaws should have been reformed a long time ago”, Díaz insisted.
Reforming the bylaws to allow the use of more languages “means we are moving forward with a country that is plural and diverse”, she added. Díaz, who is from the northern region of Galicia, insisted that Spain is “a country of countries”.
Any such reforms would be seen as a significant concession by Sumar to separatist and nationalist parties from Catalonia and the Basque Country, observers say.
In 2022, Catalan separatists and Basque nationalists pushed for a modification of the bylaws. They advocated for the right of MPs to express themselves in the official languages of their Autonomous Communities. The centre-right Partido Popular (PP), the Conservative party Vox and even Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) voted against that initiative.
Sumar is bringing back the idea in its capacity as the leading negotiator of the left-wing bloc. The PSOE has called for “discretion” throughout the process, while the Catalans and the Basques have demanded the direct involvement of the acting PM Sánchez. He has raised eyebrows by going on vacation to Marrakech in the middle of the negotiations.
The Bylaws of the Spanish Congress do not contain a language clause. The Spanish Constitution states in its Article 3 that “Castilian is the official language of the state”. It adds that “all Spaniards have the duty to know it and the right to use it”.
The constitution also refers to “the rest of the other languages from Spain” that are official in the Autonomous Communities “according to their own Statutes of Autonomy”. Díaz claims her proposal “fits” within such constitutional provisions.