“We are not going to play tricks, in Congress we are going to speak in Spanish.” With this phrase, the Basque deputy and spokesperson for the PP leadership, Borja Sémper, disqualified at a press conference on Monday the reform to allow the use of official regional languages in Congress. A day later, this Tuesday, he was in charge of establishing the position of his party regarding this change in the regulations from the gallery of the Lower House. And he did it in a speech in which he spoke some phrases in Basque that he immediately translated into Spanish.
Congress launches the use of official languages between the PP protests and the Vox plant
His speech angered some of his colleagues and was echoed this Wednesday in the conservative press, which directed its criticism against the deputy, to which the parliamentarian tried to defend himself. “I have risked my life to be from the PP,” he said in an interview on Onda Cero, where he participated for years as a talk show host.
The leader has reiterated, as he did after the Plenary Session, that his intention was to highlight that in Congress the official regional languages could now be used from the tribune, as long as it was done in a limited way and the speakers self-translated. “I thought it was brilliant,” he said, to ensure that the content of the speech was known, and accepted, by Alberto Núñez Feijóo.
“I wanted to show that the languages of the territories are not the heritage of nationalists and independence supporters,” he said when asked by Carlos Alsina. Regarding anonymous internal criticism, Sémper has pointed out: “When you are a spokesperson for a matter like this, there are people who say that they think it is bad, good or that they do not share it.” “We are not the PSOE, we do not expel people,” he said on several occasions throughout the interview.
Expressly asked about the possible “enemies” he may have within the PP, Sémper has drawn on his personal history in the Basque Country, where he was threatened by ETA: “I feel absolutely comfortable in the political project that Feijóo promotes. I feel very comfortable in the PP, which is my lifelong home. I have risked my life to be from the PP. My bond is emotional, because because I am from the PP they have wanted to kill me.”
Sémper has also anticipated that the EU will not accept Catalan, Basque or Galician as official languages. “In the EU the official languages are those that are official in the member countries. It is materially impossible, according to the EU treaties and according to the countries that make up the EU, for co-official languages of a part of the territories to be official languages of the EU.”
Sémper will return to the stands
The national leadership of Feijóo supports the leader and the speech he made, and will once again trust Sémper to defend this Thursday the PP amendments to the reform of the Regulations, and ratify the party’s rejection of the use of Catalan, Basque or Galician with simultaneous translators.
Sémper’s explanations come after internal and external criticism. Federico Jiménez Losantos, one of the prominent voices of the conservative mornings, has used the PP’s performance in the debate on languages to ask for the “dismissal” of part of the hard core of Genoa, including Sémper, whom he referred to as “Borjita ”, but also from the parliamentary spokesperson Cuca Gamarra, the general coordinator, Elías Bendodo, and the Institutional Deputy Secretary, Esteban González Pons. They are leaders whom Losantos refers to as the ‘sorayos’, in reference to the supposedly moderate sector embodied by Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.
During one of his interventions, the announcer affirms that he has tried “not to make too much blood” with Sémper, but later affirms that his intervention “exudes sorayism, it is looking good.” “You have to look good to your voters, not to the [cadena] Ser, before your countrymen of Ordicia. “I go back to what I always do, to the thesis of my book… It is that they despise their voters,” said Losantos before asking Feijóo for a change of strategy with a new “opposition team” that would go “for the jugular” with Cayetana. Álvarez de Toledo in front.
There are also allusions to Sémper’s performance in the El Mundo editorial. The Unidad Editorial newspaper states that the PP spokesperson intended to show that this practice was already permitted and that Basque is also the heritage of non-nationalists, but maintains that he “sent an equivocal and contradictory message.”
Other columnists from the more conservative press are more forceful. Ramón Pérez Maura writes an article in El Debate entitled “Borja Sémper, that statesman”, in which he states that “everything sensible that the PP had done on this day” was “destroyed” by Sémper when he “started speaking in Basque”. “Could it be more incongruous?” asks Pérez Maura, who affirms that since Núñez Feijóo incorporated him into his team “he has been characterized by making statements that bother his traditional electoral base and, apparently, on the 23rd of July, they do not seem to garner new votes.”
“It would be very convenient for you to explain to your electorate and to the voters that it does not seem like you are seducing, what sense did it make yesterday when Gamarra began by denouncing the use of languages that are not co-official in Madrid, and Sémper ended up using the Basque language that he himself translated To Spanish. At that point, no one could be surprised that the majority of the House burst out laughing… at him. A statesman, I insist,” Pérez Maura concludes.
Sémper’s intervention “speaking in Basque in Congress at the least appropriate time” also focuses part of Pilar Cernuda’s article in The Objective, titled ‘I have become a warrior’. It was, in the journalist’s opinion, a “scene” that “should never have occurred” and that Cernuda attributes to the “lack of authority in the PP”, which “was seen when the regional leaders negotiated government pacts with Vox and see these days of uncertainty.”
Speaking Galician is not “doing the trick”
At mid-morning, the general secretary of the PPdeG, Paula Prado, claimed that the popular Galicians “love” the language and that they “do not” consider that speaking it is “making a fool of themselves.” However, in statements reported by Europa Press, Prado has avoided Sémper criticism for using this expression, and has differentiated this sentiment from the open debate on the use of official languages in Congress, which he has identified with a “politics of distraction” of the PSOE, which has repudiated.
“We love Galician, we respect Galician and we share the cordial use of Galician, we do it every day. What we understand is that using the earpiece to understand each other between people who speak the same language is a distraction measure so that other things are not talked about,” he stated, in statements to the media at the party’s regional headquarters.
However, on September 13, the PP voted in the Galician Parliament against an initiative to support the use of co-official languages in Congress.