The new leader of Spain's opposition Partido Popular (PP), Alberto Núnez Feijóo, was touted as the man who would return his party's discourse to a more moderate line, leaving behind the failure of Pablo Casado. But the image has not stood up to the political reality, and Feijóo has also set to work in carrying on his predecessor's unqualified attacks on Catalonia and the Catalan language. This Thursday, in an interview with radio network Onda Cero, the PP leader went so far as to say that in Catalan schools there is "linguistic apartheid" against "children who are not able to have knowledge of the Spanish language in the classroom".
Feijóo not only compared Catalan education with a system of racist oppression that lasted more than forty years, but he has also fully immersed himself in the discourse of far right Vox, and the line taken by his PP predecessor. The new era of the PP thus seems very similar to the previous one, as evidenced by use of the identical phrase last December by Pablo Casado, then People's Party leader: "The Spanish government's partners are carrying out linguistic apartheid in Catalonia". Casado's statement referred to the court ruling imposing 25% of teaching time in Spanish, the same as his successor a few months later.
In addition to Feijóo's rather unfortunate comparison, he did not miss the opportunity to reproach the Catalan government, which he called "a guarantor of non-compliance with the law", and against the Catalan Socialists (PSC), who he said were giving "winks" at the pro-independence parties. The PP leader remarked that the situation in Catalonia is "serious" and that it is "atypical" for a Spanish prime minister to "look the other way".
Campaign and Catalan
The new decree law on Catalan approved by the Catalan government has fallen like manna from heaven for the right-wing parties immersed in the campaign for the Andalusian elections. Anti-Catalonia statements are playing a major role in the build-up to the June 19th elections to the parliament of Andalusian autonomous community. Far-right Vox in particular is taking every opportunity to ignite the fire of anti-Catalanism. Ths Tuesday, Vox leader Santiago Abascal said that his party would reapply article 155 to Catalonia, the constitutional article imposing direct rule from Madrid, in response to the decree law on language use in Catalan schools.
Now, it is Feijóo who has joined the same rhetorical line and expressed pride in the PP's action in 2017, when in government, to "stop the independence process". The PP leader defended that if it were not for his party, the Catalan independence leaders "would not have been in prison, there would have been no sentences for sedition and misuse of funds and the constitutional order would not have been restored". He also took the opportunity to state that if the People's Party was back in the Moncloa palace, he would lodge an appeal requesting the automatic suspension of the language decree. Furthermore, he said that he would study penalising schools that do not comply with the 25% Spanish ruling and would look for ways to find out what responsibility can be attributed to the Catalan education minister, Josep González-Cambray.