Another heated face-to-face encounter. Spanish elections on the horizon and Catalonia as an excuse to tell lies and make accusations. This time it was the turn of the president of the People's Party (PP), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, to offer some porkies related to the Spanish language in the Catalan school system. "I will not make deals with the pro-independence parties so that Spanish children cannot learn Spanish in Spain", said the leader of the opposition in the face-off he had this Tuesday in the Senate with the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez (PSOE). This comment by the PP leader had its consequences, and led to replies by the Spanish PM and the senator of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Mirella Cortès.
During one of his interventions, Sánchez ventured into irony and referred to himself as "a bad patriot because I sell myself to the nationalists". "Do you prefer the Spain and Catalonia of October 2017 or the Spain and Catalonia of 2022?", Sánchez asked Feijóo during their confrontation in the Spanish upper house. "Update your argument", the Spanish prime minister said to his opponent. "We are not bad patriots, we are the same as you", he said.
Feijóo, however, did not wanted to climb down from his argument, and insisted that if one day he becomes Spanish prime minister, he will not enter into a pact with any pro-independence party. "And I will not violate the Constitution either", he added. And there he asked for a Spain in which Spanish and Catalan "are in a situation of equality" in the Catalan school system; and he reproached Sánchez for always wanting to defend his patriotism due to the fact that the PSOE supported Article 155, imposing direct rule on Catalonia, in 2017. "You prefer to talk to ERC and Bildu before the PP; and that is your problem, not mine", he added.
When it was turn of the Catalan senator Cortès, she claimed that "if Spain were a full democracy, I would now be speaking in Catalan at this lectern, without anything or anyone forbidding me". After receiving several rounds of applause for responding in this way to Feijóo's statements, the ERC politician cited a series of reasons why, according to her, the Spanish state is not a full democracy: "There would be neither exiles nor people facing state reprisals [for independendence-related accusations], they would listen to the international resolutions that call for an end to the repression in Catalonia, they would not be afraid to ask if people prefer a monarchy or a republic and they would invest what they have in Catalan suburban rail". "Spain has entered a repressive spiral", denounced Cortès.
To finish, Sánchez replied to Cortès that from the government that he presides over "we will never use language to confront other political groups". "Languages are for uniting people and a dialogue table should be opened between the Catalan parties", added the Socialist leader.
Later it was the turn of Josep Lluís Cleries. Although he did not make a direct reference to Feijóo's statements, he did jump on a point in Cortès's speech, and reminded Pedro Sánchez that his party, Together for Catalonia (Junts), had pushed for a reform of the rules of the Spanish Parliaments so that MPs could can speak Catalan, Basque or Galician from the podium. "Let's get it going and we'll all be happy," he said.