The Plaza de la Constitución in Pamplona will also have signs in Basque. The decision arises from the fact that the term “constitution” is not a proper name, but a common one. This conclusion of the Administrative Disputes Chamber of the Supreme Court of Navarra (TSJN) has led the Chamber to decide that the Plaza de la Constitución in Pamplona must also be labeled in Basque. This ruling, with a long legal history, has its origins in the appeal against the decision of the then city council member filed in 2022 by the then Pamplona city councilor Joseba Asiron (EH Bildu) – current mayor. Enrique Maya (UPN). , not to label the square in both languages, as specified in the regulations. The sign that gives the room its name currently reads “Plaza Constitución” and directly below it in small print reads “Spanish Constitution of 1978-1978ko Espainiako Konstituzioa.” Given the recent change in the mayor's office, it is foreseeable that no further appeals will be made and the council will shortly change the sign to adopt the name in Basque on a large scale.
For the court, the key was to determine whether or not the name chosen by the consistory – “Constitution” – was a proper name. If that were the case, it would be untranslatable. “As for proper names, it is true that they do not allow translation and must be identified with the registered name, whether in Spanish or Basque.” However, in the judgment they make it clear that Constitution is a common name, “as is the Terms organic law, regional law, legislative decree, legislative decree, all of which are translatable.” Not even the terms Magna Carta, supreme norm of the legal system or law of laws transform the term constitution into a proper noun.”
The court thus rejects the theory previously advocated by the Pamplona city council (in the hands of the UPN until the most recent motion of censure in December), according to which the naming of the streets leads ex novo to a proper name. In other words, when naming a place, the term constitution itself becomes a proper name. “What gives rise to the name is an ex novo name for a place, but that name will be correct or in use depending on the species, without the fact of assigning a name to a street per se converting it into a proper name, not however “It sets him apart from others,” the judges emphasize in the decision.
The events date back to January 2022, when the Pamplona City Council named this street “Plaza de la Constitución”. This year, Asiron appealed the city council's decision not to translate the word “Constitution”, although it recognized that this violated the regulation regulating the use of Basque, which states in Article 8 that ” the Pamplona City Council will use Spanish and Basque when addressed to citizens in general. This means that buildings, streets and public spaces will be marked bilingually.”
In June 2022, the Administrative Court of Navarre (TAN) upheld Asiron's appeal and the council lodged an appeal. In March 2023, the Administrative Court No. 2 of Pamplona confirmed the TAN decision, which the Maya team appealed again. Now it has been confirmed by the Disputes and Administrative Chamber of the TSJN. In the judgment, the TSJN considers that “the general rule is the marking of buildings, streets and public places in Spanish and Basque and the exception, which, like any exception to the general rule, must be subject to a restrictive interpretation, is also the monolingual marking is.” in Basque or in Spanish.” This regulation regulates the relationship between the municipal public administration and the citizens, which, given the location of Pamplona in the mixed zone of Navarre, must be done in both languages. As the city council explained at the time: “As a general criterion, the citizens of Pamplona have the right to address the city council orally or in writing, both in Spanish and in Basque.” The administration answers them in the language originally used in oral conversations and either in Spanish or bilingual for written communications. The provincial community is divided into three areas – Basque-speaking, mixed and non-Basque-speaking – in order to adapt the relationship between public administrations and citizens to the sociolinguistic reality of each area.
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