The mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, has said that today he will start "bilateral and exclusive" talks with the right-wing opposition party Partido Popular regarding municipal budgets (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). With this move, Trias is hoping to finalise the council's 2012 budget and fiscal regulations. In turn, the leader of the PP in the Barcelona council, Alberto Fernández Díaz, said that it was possible that the first agreements would be reached this week. Speaking yesterday, Trias said that it was a matter of a "serious negotiation" during which all the relevant issues will be debated in a careful way. The mayor expressed his interest in seeing the talks bear fruit in the shortest possible time and reflected in an agreement regarding the accounts of Barcelona "because the city can't go any longer without a budget," according to a press release issued yesterday by the Ayuntamiento.
With rumours swirling that ETA will shortly announce that it will permanently lay down its arms, a story that has been published in today's Guardian newspaper, a Basque country peace conference is kicking off in San Sebastian today albeit without the Spanish government taking part (read article in Castilian here, El Periódico). The meeting will start at 2pm in the Casa de la Paz (House of Peace) and for three hours the issue will be discussed by such luminaries as Kofi Annan, Bertie Ahern, Gerry Adams, Jonathan Powell, Pierre Joxe and Gro Harlem Bruntland. The initiative has received the support of Basque nationalist and independence organisations, but saw initial reticence on the part of the Spanish Socialists (PSOE)—although the government won't be involved, there will be representatives from the Basque section of the Socialist party, the PSE, with its president Jesús Eguiguren and the mayor of Ermua Carlos Totorika participating—while some other parties have rejected the gathering, including the Partido Popular and Unión Progreso y Democrácia.
The indignation of Catalans with political parties has long roots and will last for a while to come, according to a new survey by the Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). While Catalans are increasingly interested in politics, at the same time they are increasingly critical towards current politicians. The level of dissatisfaction with the democratic system is, according to a five-year analysis of the 'barometer' of the Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió, at historic levels. The demonstration that took place last Saturday by 'indignats' represents, amongst other things, another serious warning from the street for both government and parties. According to the economist Arcadi Oliveres, one of the intellectual reference points of the 15-M movement, "People aren't interested in party politics, but they are in politics", which means problems of freedom, unemployment and housing.