Just start the plenary session that welcomed the use of co-official languages for the first time from several communities, the parliamentary spokesperson of the PP, Cuca Gamarra, interrupted the socialist deputy in his use of the word to demand that the session be held in Spanish “in accordance with the Regulations” of Congress. Shortly after, to the surprise of everyone, including the popular bench, the deputy of his group, Borja Sémper, born in Irún (Gipuzkoa), defended the PP’s position from the rostrum, interspersing Spanish and Basque, the latter being his language of origin. . Sémper defended a “minimally bilingual” intervention, in his words, translating Basque, although the day before he had announced that the PP would express itself only in Spanish to “not mess around.” The speech of the popular spokesperson, which caused the Vox bench to leave the chamber for the second time, also angered part of the PP bench. “It was not the day, If we defend that it was breaking the Regulation, we cannot speak in Basque,” an indignant PP deputy complained this Tuesday, summarizing the feeling that ran through the parliamentary group.
The contrast between the speech of the general secretary, Cuca Gamarra, and that of the deputy secretary Borja Sémper was evident, separated only by a few hours of difference. Sitting next to Alberto Núñez Feijóo, Gamarra rose from her seat like a spring as soon as the socialist deputy for Lugo Xosé Ramón Gómez Besteiro began to speak in Galician from the rostrum. “That law cannot come into force nor can it be applied as long as it has not been: firstly, taken into consideration. Secondly, debated; thirdly, approved; and, where appropriate, published and, therefore, entry into force. Which is even included in the final provision of this law,” Gamarra complained in reference to the proposed law to reform the Regulations to be able to use the different co-official languages of several autonomous communities in Congress, which has not actually been approved yet. “Therefore, Madam President, the public powers are subject to the Constitution and current legislation, and what I would ask is that the development of this plenary session be carried out in accordance with the Regulations.” That is, in Spanish, as had been done until this Tuesday’s plenary session.
After her, when it was the turn of the PP, the popular spokesperson, Borja Sémper, started in Basque, a language he used in three paragraphs. “My children speak in Basque, our diversity is not a problem, it is our heritage,” defended the parliamentarian, who was making his debut on the Congress platform. In addition to the contrast with the general secretary, the problem, highlighted by his rivals and some popular deputies, was that Sémper himself had announced the day before at a press conference at the PP headquarters that his party would express itself only in Spanish during the plenary session. And that the PP defended that it is against not only waiting for the reform of the Regulation to be approved, but also the use of co-official languages in Congress. The PNV spokesperson, Aitor Esteban, immediately highlighted the contradiction into which the popular spokesperson had fallen: “Well, it seems that Semper has finally done, in his own words, the canelo.”
Sémper’s intervention caused deep discomfort in part of the popular parliamentary group, according to different sources consulted. “It has felt like a shock to 90% of the deputies,” one of them pointed out. “The group is very angry, today (this Tuesday) was not the day, it was the day to give hosts even on the identity card. If we have decided that it was not the time to use the co-official languages because the Regulation had not been approved, it is shameless for us to do the same,” he lamented.
Sémper argued in his response to Aitor Esteban on the social network X (formerly Twitter) that had adjusted to current regulatory use. “You don’t understand anything, neither in Basque nor in Spanish. Until now, brief interventions in co-official languages are allowed if they are self-translated, which shows the nonsense they are doing. Continue along this line…” he responded angrily to the PNV spokesperson. But some of his people do not share that thesis either. “If Meritxell Batet had been presiding over Congress, he would have interrupted him!” says a PP deputy, who recalls that until now some literary quotes in other languages could be used, but not broad fragments.
In the PP, many consider that Sémper’s speech “is not understood by the PP voters of Andalusia, Murcia or Melilla.” “It is an intervention for former convergents and urbanites,” says another deputy. Some parliamentarians also warn of the risk of angering Vox just a week before they have to vote in favor of Feijóo’s investiture. “That Vox stood up and left us with the word in our mouths, prefigures the loneliness of the plenary session of the Constitution of the Cortes,” warned one.
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The complaint that ran through the group was also not having known in advance what was going to happen. In the group meeting before the plenary session, at 10 in the morning, neither Gamarra nor Sémper himself warned the deputies about the use of Basque that the spokesperson would make, according to sources present, although the management counters that they were warned about that I would use a wink in that language. At the meeting, parliamentarians were also instructed not to use the translation equipment, as a gesture of rejection.
Sources close to the vice-secretary defend that it is “much smarter to leave the framework in which the left wants to corner the PP” and that “Vox is already there to make the other speech.” The PP leader’s team defends Sémper’s speech and assures that they sought the “surprise effect”, but the spokesperson’s intervention, of which Feijóo was informed, surprised even members of the leadership. And some popular deputies even decided not to applaud as a sign of protest.
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