Language Politics as Part of the Electoral Struggle in Catalonia (2006-2017)
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Empirical data was collected as part of the implementation of the research project of the Russian Science Foundation No. 15-18-00034 “Ensuring a balance in interethnic relations: regional autonomies, integrity of the state and the rights of ethnic minorities” (headed by P.V. Panov)
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Language regime, based on a normative recognition of the co-official status of regional language, is needed in institutionally maintained public consensus. This consensus depends on a set of interlocking factors: the content and scope of language preferential policy, concerns and claims of political actors embroiled in language politics, and the changing political context. The article analyses the role of language policy as a topic in the electoral programs of the political parties of Catalonia in the context of the Barcelona – Madrid conflict. It focuses on the electoral agenda and political parties’ involvement in language politics. By a comparative analysis of party programs, we offer insights into the variability of language claims and their links with the position of parties in the conflict. The comparison indicates that the co-official status of Spanish Castilian and Catalan in regional linguistic space is not to be disputed. However, regional and national parties variously interpret and approve of this co-official status. For regional branches of national parties, there is united support for Spanish Castilian and Catalan having equal status. Regional parties advocate the dominant position of Catalan, the next development of language preferential policy. They claim to improve Catalan as tool for consolidation of community. Operational contestation of a language regime is in the rhetoric of Catalan Independentists. The status of Catalan, and discussion about the content and scope of language preferential policy, plays a symbolic role in the conflict between Catalonia and Spain. The reinforcement of claims of Independentists to re-evaluate the parity of Catalan and Spanish Castilian acts as an instrument of ethnic mobilization.
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