LINGUISTIC LAW

Catalan not needed for Balearic civil service posts, rules top court

Constitutional justices reject appeal against PP reform downgrading knowledge of language to a mere advantage

Applicants for posts in the Balearics' regional administration should not be required to have a certain level of Catalan, which is spoken in the islands alongside Spanish, unless it is for a specific position relating to customer service or education, the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday.

A full session of the top court dismissed an appeal by the Socialist Parliamentary Group in the Senate against a reform of the law regulating the regional civil service, carried out by the ruling Popular Party (PP) in July of last year.

The decision arrives at tremendously difficult moments for both the Balearic region and the Constitutional Court itself.

The former is in the grip of an education strike precisely aimed against the imposition of a new linguistic model by the PP regional government that diminishes the role of Catalan in the region's schools, while increasing the hours spent teaching in English.

Meanwhile, Constitutional Court president Francisco Pérez de los Cobos has found himself embroiled in a row over whether he hid the fact that he was a card-carrying member of the PP.

Catalonia was the first region to challenge Pérez de los Cobos' position as president of the top court over concerns that his opinion could contaminate deliberations on numerous subjects it has on the table. However, the petition was rejected.

By eight votes to four the Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional, as a general law, to consider knowledge of Catalan as an advantage, but not as a requirement, to gain access to the civil service.

It concluded that there was "no discrimination due to the nonexistence of preferential treatment of Spanish over Catalan." In its ruling, the top court stipulated that it was as legal to establish the requirement to have knowledge of Catalan to apply for a public position — as the regional government of Catalonia has done — as it was not to, as the PP government of the Balearics has decided.

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