The Spanish Congress of Deputies is to hold a debate today over whether to allow Catalan to be spoken there, as well as Galician and Basque (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The move would entail a change in the regulations governing the Congress and has been out forward by the Catalan left-wing republican party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) with the support of various parties from different regions of Spain including Convergència i Unió from Catalunya and PNB from the Basque country. If successful, the proposal would see the modification of article six of the regulations for the Lower Chamber, and allow deputies from Catalunya, Galicia or the Basque country to decide whether to speak in Castilian or the relevant other official language when addressing the chamber. ERC also wants a further change to the regulations that would allow citizens to use any of the official languages allowed by the Spanish constitution in documents addressed to the Congress. A similar effort made by ERC in April last year failed to prosper due to a lack of support from other parties; however, they have refined the wording of the proposal to be able to bring the motion before the Congress.
The president of the Generalitat, Artus Mas, and representatives from his party Convergència i Unió (CiU) have tried to clear up the confusion surrounding the fate of the Catalan inheritance tax law (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). While the secretary of Government, Gemma Gordó has suggested that the party is going to break its electoral promise to get rid of inheritance tax completely, Mas has said that his aim is to have a system similar to that of the communities of Madrid or Valencia, where the tax has been repealed when money is passed from parents to children or between married couples, but continues to apply to certain other family relationships, such as between siblings. Sources close to Mas said that it was regrettable that Gordó had spoken in such a way as to question the commitment of CiU to amending the law, but there has been no outright denial that the change is going to be partial. The partner party of Convergència, Unió, said that it had understood that the complete repeal was an electoral commitment of Convergència, while the Partido Popular warned Mas that if the tax wasn't suppressed in its entirety, it would cause complications in future budget negotiations.
The Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero wants to commit 500 soldiers on a three-month mission to the international offensive in Libya (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Zapatero is due to appear today before Congress to seek permission to allow Spain to participate in the attacks being carried out under the auspices of the UN. Zapatero yesterday expressed his satisfaction for the way that the first phase of the air strikes on Libya had progressed, especially the fact that they had not caused any civilian deaths. The plan for the Spanish soliders is that they will spend a month on operations connected to the no-fly zone, while three months would be spent on embargo operations. Both the Spanish government and the Socialist party have been keen to point out differences between the Libyan action and the war in Iraq, to which the then Spanish president José María Aznar gave support despite overwhelming public opposition; when Zapatero took power in 2004, one of his first moves was to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.