Controversy in Senate as official taking oath in Catalan obliged to speak in Spanish

ERC member Mirella Cortès was asked to speak four times not to speak in her mother tongue while making declaration

ERC member Mirella Cortès at Spanish senate on Tuesday (by ACN)
ERC member Mirella Cortès at Spanish senate on Tuesday (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 8, 2018 07:10 PM

A member of pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana (ERC,) Mirella Cortès, senator at the Spanish senate, has sparked controversy on Tuesday when taking her oath for her seat in the chamber. Speaking in Catalan, she affirmed how she would work “towards the freedom of political prisoners and the return of those in exile, up to the consolidation of the Catalan republic.”

Her words did not go down well with the president of the chamber Pío García-Escudero, who obliged her to speak in Spanish. Cortès, however, repeated her declaration four times in her mother tongue of Catalan, before obeying the president of the chamber and speaking in Spanish. Aside from the change in language, however, her words remained the same.

From the side of Spain’s ruling People’s Party, her speech was received with shouts of “shame.”

Cortès and another ERC member, Bernat Picornell, have both assumed their new positions in the Spanish senate wearing yellow shirts, yellow being the colour of solidarity with Catalan leaders in jail or abroad.

The Spanish senate was set up to be a territorial chamber, but has never fully developed as such, and Spanish remains its only official language despite calls to allow other regional languages in the chamber.