Right and far right vow to take Catalan language bill to Constitutional Court

Parliament votes on Wednesday on law to counter 25% Spanish quota in schools

A teacher helps pupils in a primary school in Tarragona, May 2019 (image by Eloi Tost)
A teacher helps pupils in a primary school in Tarragona, May 2019 (image by Eloi Tost) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 7, 2022 07:25 PM

Opposition parties in Catalonia on the right have reacted angrily to the Council of Statutory Guarantees' (CGE) endorsement on Tuesday of the proposed new Catalan language law, vowing to take the matter to Spain's Constitutional Court.

Cuidadanos (Cs), the People's Party (PP) and far-right Vox had asked the CGE to make a ruling on the law, thus preventing it coming before parliament, where it enjoys a majority of support having been agreed by four parties in May: the two in government, Esquerra and Junts, as well as the Socialists and En Comú Podem.

The law does not include Spanish as a language of instruction in classrooms and does not establish percentages for the use of Catalan and Spanish in schools. The CGE, an advisory body, found that neither omission means the law violates either the Spanish Constitution or the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia. In fact, they pointed out that the new law provides for "a wider use" of Spanish in schools.

The law is now set to be voted on in parliament on Wednesday and expected to be approved with a large majority.

"Not worth the paper it's written on"

In response to the CGE findings, Joan Garriga, parliamentary spokesperson for Vox announced they would sue the Catalan education minister, Josep Gonzàlez Cambray, for "disobeying" a court ruling that 25% of teaching in Catalan schools had to be carried out through Spanish.

Garriga said the CGE report was "not worth the paper it's written on," and that the organization itself was "useless." They had – along with Cs and PP – only sought its opinion to "obstruct" the agreed bill.

"We already knew it would be positive, it has no credibility," Garriga said, reiterating that Vox will try to "halt" the law through Spain's Constitutional Court. Ciudadanos and the People's Party have vowed to do the same once the law is passed.

Cs spokesman in parliament, Nacho Martín Blanco, said that the CGE's opinion endorsing the Catalan language law has "weaknesses" and uses "debatable arguments", while PP MP, Lorena Roldán, said the CGE ruling was "nothing they did not expect" and called on the Spanish government to "guarantee that in Catalonia judicial decisions are complied with and linguistic rights are not violated."

Catalan language immersion system

Catalonia has a decades-long policy of language immersion, ie teaching in Catalan. With Spanish the dominant language in the media and online, the education policy is designed to protect the Catalan language, ensure bilingualism, and avoid the creation of separate language communities.

An education law passed by Spain's conservative People's Party government in 2015 was the starting gun for a legal process that ended up in Spain's Supreme Court and led to the High Court in January 2022 confirming that Catalan schools had two months to introduce a 25% quota of classes in Spanish.

Filling the Sink podcast

Press play below to listen to the Filling the Sink podcast released on March 19 to learn more about the immersion system in Catalan schools.