EU elections Spain: languages and the draft Constitution at the centre of debate
Dépêche de Eurolang

Publié le 10/06/04 7:04 -- mis à jour le 00/00/00 00:00

by Alexia Bos Solé

The political landscape in Spain changed after the general elections in March and has set a different context for the European elections. The campaign is already controversial, Mariano Rajoy, leader of Spain's opposition Popular Party (PP), last Friday accused the ruling Socialist Party (PSOE) of being ‘weak’ and said he believed his party had a chance of recovering some seats in the June 13 European elections.

The election campaign is also controversial in Euskal Herria (Basque Country) after Spain's Supreme Court banned a Basque coalition group from participating in the European elections. Members of the Basque party Herritarren Zerrenda ('the list of the people'), said they would appeal the decision in the Constitutional Court, Spain's highest court. Spain's Socialist government, which took office last month, said the party was the heir to Batasuna, the banned Basque political party (see related article in Eurolang).

In the run up to the election many questions are being debated at state level: the ratification of the EU constitution, the possibility of holding a referendum for the ratification, the disagreement of some nationalist and independentist parties with the content of the EU draft Constitution, and the request of Catalan, Euskara and Galego to be officially recognised at European level. Eurolang spoke to some of the Catalan political parties on these sensitive issues.

Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, independentist left) representative, Jesus Maestro, told Eurolang that ‘the Spanish government has a political will to work towards the recognition of Catalan’. However, Maestro was quite pessimistic and recalled that unanimity will be needed in this case, and that this will be very difficult to achieve ‘since there is little time to negotiate for official recognition’.

Maestro referred to the case of Catalan language as an ‘historical anomaly’, pointing out that a language spoken by around nine million people cannot be marginalized. ‘Independence is the only way left for us”, concluded Maestro.

In a round–table meeting held on Friday in Barcelona by the organisations CIEMEN and Col.lectiu Poble, other Catalan parties expressed their point of view concerning the EU Elections. Most of them agreed with the need to have official recognition for Catalan. However, not all of them said ‘yes’ to the EU Constitution.

Jesϊs Artiola, candidate for the independentist group CUP (Candidates for Popular Unity), which is going to participate for first time to the EU elections, stated that ‘the contents of the draft Constitution stand for a slap in the face for the rights of the European peoples’. Artiola went further by pointing out that the present EU Constitution reinforces the ‘democratic deficit which we are currently enduring’.

At Spanish state level, according to a recent poll, the PSOE will win with around 35.8% of the vote, while the PP will receive just 16.8%.

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