Gaelic should be used on Scottish ballot papers, public body says

Using Gaelic alongside English in Scottish elections could help increase voter turnout, Bòrd na Gàidhlig has said.

Gaelic should be used on Scottish Parliament ballot papers, Bòrd na Gàidhlig says Getty Images

Gaelic should be used alongside English in Scottish elections, the public body with responsibility for the language has said.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG) issued a range of recommendations to the Scottish Government in response to a consultation on electoral reform.

The consultation is looking at how to improve election law, including whether 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to stand in elections.

Among BnG’s suggestions is to use Gaelic alongside English on ballot papers for both Holyrood and council elections.

Using Gaelic in elections could help increase voter turnout, Bòrd na Gàidhlig said.iStock

The body, which was established by the Gaelic Language Act 2005, said the move would ensure both languages are given equal respect.

“Using the Gaelic language in election materials including ballot papers can contribute to increased registration levels and thus increase voter turnout,” it said.

“The aim of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 is that ‘Gaelic language as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language’.

“Elections are a fundamental part of national life.

“As such, they are ones where Gaelic and the English language should be given equal respect.”

BnG said there is precedent for the policy, and pointed to Wales which has already introduced the Welsh language in local and national votes.

The body also wants the Scottish Government to use Gaelic in material publicising elections.

BnG said it would help the Scottish Government meet its own language policies and the aims of a National Gaelic Plan.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig, a non-departmental arm of the Scottish Government, said there is an increasing demand for Gaelic education in Scotland.STV News

It said: “It can be argued that the use of Gaelic in such a key activity, i.e., elections, is necessary in order to maintain its relevance as an official language of Scotland.”

It added: “More widely, greater use of the language by Gaelic users should be viewed as contributing towards their individual well-being.

“Language and culture create self-esteem, nurture self-confidence, define identity and improve quality of life.

“This increases the wellbeing for users, learners, and supporters who have great pride in the language and culture.

“It contributes positively to what these people think and feel about their lives.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

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