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Controversy over Catalan as requirement for public servants

Pro-independence Esquerra defends ‘multilingualism’ after unionist Ciutadans suggested Spanish should be the only language required for public function



13 February 2018 03:18 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The Catalan language is at the center of the political debate in Spain once more after unionist Ciutadans proposed suppressing Catalan, Galician and Basque languages from the requirements for public servants in the territories where they are officially used alongside Spanish. This would mean that Spanish would be the only language required in Catalonia for public functions, even though both Catalan and Spanish are equally official in the country.

Esquerra responded to Ciutadans’ initiative by proposing a recognition of Spain’s multilingualism in the Spanish congress. The pro-independence measure includes making Catalan, Basque and Galician official in the whole of Spain and not only in the territories where they are spoken.

“Merit” and not “barrier”

This initiative goes against Ciutadans’ proposal. The unionist party claims that the requirement to understand a language is now a “barrier” but it should be considered only as a “merit.” An official for En Comú Podem, in between both the pro-independence and unionist blocs, said that Ciutadans is “declaring war on plurality” and multilingualism with the measure.


  • "All persons have the right to use the two official languages, and citizens of Catalonia have the right and the duty to know them"

    Catalonia's Statute of Autonomy

What the law says on languages

The Catalan Statute of Autonomy states that “Catalonia’s own language is Catalan.” It also says it is the language “of normal and preferential use in Public Administration bodies,” although the Spanish Constitutional Court eliminated the word ‘preferential’ from the sentence in the Statute in 2010..

The main legal text in Catalonia also says that “Catalan is the official language of Catalonia, together with Castilian [for Spanish], the official language of the Spanish State. All persons have the right to use the two official languages, and citizens of Catalonia have the right and the duty to know them.” “The public authorities of Catalonia shall establish the necessary measures to enable the exercise of these rights and the fulfilment of this duty. In keeping with the provisions of Article 32, there shall be no discrimination on the basis of use of either of the two languages,” the Statute adds.


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  • Ciutadans' secretary general, José Manuel Villegas (by Ciutadans)