Friday, June 23, 2006

It sometimes seems to me that one of the consequences of Spain’s decentralised government is that the regions act like state-lets who see themselves in competition both with each other and with Madrid. I guess the regional parliaments have to justify their jobs but a good deal of muscle-flexing seems to go on in what is often a confrontational manner. The Galician government has just taken this attitude a step further and said it wants electricity companies to compensate the region for damage done to its rivers, valleys and mountains. Turning on its head the normal policy of offering incentives to potential investors, it has told one of the existing operators that it’s planning to impose a special tax. Unsurpris- ingly, the company has replied that, if so, it will take its capital somewhere else.

After several months with towels around their heads, the leaders of Galicia’s Socialist-Nationalist coalition have announced they’ve agreed on the content of the draft new Constitution for the region. Unlike in Catalunia, this needs a 75% vote in the parliament before it passes to Madrid, meaning it won’t go through without the support of the opposition PP party. The latter had 43% of the vote in last year’s elections so holds a pretty strong hand. So, several more months of talks ahead, I guess. And then the really exciting battle with the central government.

I asked a knowledgeable Galician friend about the claim in the site I quoted the other day that ‘real Galician’ could be understood by Portuguese speakers. He said this was the same as saying Middle English could be understood by German speakers. Or, to put it as succinctly as he did, “It’s rubbish”. He had similar views on the view that Galicia was a Celtic nation.

If you’re about to fly to Vigo with Air France, Air Berlin or any of the other airlines that go there, you might like to know Iberia refuses to land there when the weather merits use of the automatic landing system. Two years after its introduction, they say they still have doubts about it and will continue to divert flights to Santiago or La Coruña if there is fog. Not exactly a trivial concern, I would have thought. And one that should have been resolved quite some time ago.

Vigo’s secondary schools have complained the recent university entrance exam in Maths was too hard, explaining why 54% of the students failed it. The following was quoted as a question which foxed even some of the brighter minds. They didn’t give the answer but I think it’s obvious. So either I’ve got things very wrong or the students had an off-day. Perhaps it’s a trick question:- In a college, half of the students are studying in the first cycle and two thirds of those studying in the second cycle are men. If there are 140 pupils doing the second ESO cycle, how many ESO students are there? Anyone want to hazard an answer?


Anonymous said...

Hi Colin

Real Galician, interesting one. I do not thing there is such a thing as real galician. Gallego, as any language that have not been fixed by a written grammar until recently, have been evolving in different ways depending of the area and the influence of neighbourgs languages.


Portuguese people can understand gallego, and even spanish, it is a question of willingness and attention more than other thing. The same for the spaniards is not happenning, for the same reason, lack of willingness and effort.

I live in a portuguese speaking country, my interlocutors said that my spanish is not so difficult to understand...maybe do to the fact that I am using gallego with a funny accent....

Gabriel said...

Hence the fall of the Spanish Empire...