Boxing Clever

The squabbling over a televised debate between the two main-party candidates in the Catalan regional elections looks set to keep running. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) have accepted the challenge of the centre-right-nationalist CiU party to take part in a televised square-off, but only under certain conditions.

The socialists, whose candidate, José Montilla, came to Catalonia from southern Spain as a teenager, want one of two US-style head-to-heads to be screened on a Spanish (not Catalan) station and to be conducted in Spanish. Montilla is something of a nationalist whipping boy due to his functional but far-from-flowery Catalan delivery; though not guilty of the barbarismos attributed to him, he speaks Catalan falteringly and avoids the tricky pronoms febles  like a dose of the clap. The Catalan TV3 channel’s satirical show Polònia has been milking laughs for a while now with their Montilla character’s tendency to grasp for a Spanish word whenever a vaguely difficult Catalan word is called for. 

A debate on Spanish TV would take the debate out to a sector of potential voters who would be unlikely to tune in to a debate in Catalan, namely parts of the waves of working-class immigrants from other regions of Spain who came to Catalonia in the 1960s. Many of these don’t tune in to TV3 because their Catalan isn’t too hot, and plenty don’t bother because the programming, often based around keeping alive a somewhat idealised vision of Catalan society, doesn’t particularly interest them. Political programmes on the station have an inbuilt tendency to favour a nationalist outlook, thus keeping any alternative viewpoint off the agenda or strictly in the realm of the ridiculous; a head-to-head on TV3 would undoubtedly be followed up by a studio debate amongst a carefully-screened panel of experts hurling around thinly-veiled accusations of Catalanophobia as soon as the standard line was departed from. 

Artur Mas, the comparatively good-looking and exceedingly suave CiU candidate, has said he will only speak in Catalan, “the 800 year-old language of Catalonia,” just in case anyone was doubting his credentials to inherit the land which forefathers ploughed and seeded.    

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~ by Daniel on October 6, 2006.

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