Speaking my language

Are you following the election campaigns of the various parties in Mallorca? Last week my husband was handed an ‘informative’ leaflet written in Catalan. On the front page it smugly asked in English ‘Don’t you understand Catalan yet? Call this number …’ Grrrr. Yes, I could ask my five year old who is fluent in three languages to translate it for me, but hey, her reading isn’t up to much yet, and she doesn’t pay taxes so perhaps you should be directing your propaganda at people who actually contribute to the economy?

We are working our bits and bobs off during the deepest recession the world has seen, trying to keep up with our social security payments, our tax returns, bringing business to other people, and not claiming anything off of the state: surely hardworking people like us, whichever language we speak, are the people you want to convince to vote for you? It drives me nuts.

What about this then, what about allowing a working parent to be able to claim for their childcare expenses? Is that a possibility? Oh, no, that’s probably a national agenda, which we can’t vote for even though we pay taxes (that’s another column on its own). Is anyone going to notice the thousands of self-employed entrepreneurs and business people on this island who are holding on with their raggedy fingernails? Will there be a focused and professional marketing campaign for the island to improve our chances of seeing more tourists this year? Which political party is going to step up to the plate and be strong enough to make a difference? And, how am I ever going to find out?

Yes, I know we live in Mallorca, and we should speak Catalan, but this is a microcosm of modern Europe – there are people living on this island who hail from all over the place.  Why aren’t the political parties noticing that it’s not just native Mallorcans who live here now? I used to live in London, and worked for a couple of local authorities, we had to have council information in several languages and formats to ensure that everyone who lived in the borough knew what was going on. And the lobbying from the parties had to be done in several languages to ensure they captured the voters. That’s you and me. I can get by in Spanish and mumble a few words of Catalan to the old ladies on street corners, but I want to understand what my choices are. Am I going to miss out on the party that is going to focus on representing me and my family because they couldn’t be bothered to explain themselves in a language I understand? Then we’ll both miss out.

It’s all very well remembering to register to vote, the big question now is who will we vote for? Do any of us really understand what these political parties are offering? And what is important to YOU? I’d love to know.


(first published in the Euro Weekly Newspaper on April 14th 2011)

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