A record win for the Partido Popular (PP) in the upcoming Spanish general elections on November 20th has been predicted in an opinion poll carried out for El Periódico (read article in Castilian here, El Periódico). While in the past two elections, the two principal Spanish political parties, the PP and the Spanish Socialists (PSOE), used the 2000 results as the standard by which to measure their wins and loses—that was the year that the PP, under leader and incumbent prime minister José María Aznar, won the first absolute majority for the right-wing party in the democratic period, while the PSOE, led by Joaquín Almunia, slumped to its worst showing in around 30 years—it seems that prime ministerial contenders Mariano Rajoy (PP) and Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (PSOE) are to set a new level of victory and defeat this year. The PP is on course to win not only a resounding absolute majority but also to beat their own record of deputies in the Congress. In turn, the PSOE could see a major loss, with them getting their lowest number of representatives since 1979. According to the results of the poll carried out by the Gabinet d'Estudis Socials i Opinió Pública (GESOP), Rajoy will achieve a result of between 185 and 189 deputies, with 46 percent of the vote (six points more than what he achieved in 2008); this means an increase of around 30 seats from their current 154—an absolute majority in the Spanish Congress is achieved with 176 seats. In contrast, the figures regarding the probable PSOE 'debacle' speak for themselves. Rubalcaba is forecast to get between 121 and 125 deputies, which means a worsening (or in the best of cases, equaling) the result achieved by Almunia in 2000, which was 125 deputies. This would represent a fall of more than 12 points compared with the last general elections, from 43.6 percent of the vote to 31.4 percent.
Yesterday afternoon saw the last bullfight take place in Barcelona, staged at the Monumental bullring, with both expectation and notable tension around the site (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). There was a constant stream of 'Espanyolista' and bullfight-supporting proclamations and declarations, while Spanish flags featuring the Osborne bull, shirts of the Spanish football team and stickers saying 'I speak Spanish' ('yo hablo español') were also much in evidence. Inside, meanwhile, which was completely full, the atmosphere in support of the tradition was the same, with calls for freedom and many rounds of applause. On the other side of the street from the Monumental, the Catalan police escorted a group of anti-bullfighting supporters who celebrated the event with songs and placards. The wind was taken out of their sails briefly, when the three bullfighters who took part in the event, including the renowned José Tomás, were carried out of the ring on the shoulders of supporters and carried to Passeig de Gràcia, with around 100 people accompanying them; at this point, there were various confrontations between members of the pro- and anti- camps.
The number of public social housing flats that are currently unoccupied is 3,200, more than double the number declared by the previous occupant of the Generalitat's department of environment and housing (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Members of the party Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (ICV), who were in charge of this department during the last left-wing coalition government that came to a finish at the end of last year, had said that there were 1,200 empty public housing properties. Now, the department of territory and sustainability wants to make the most of these apartments and put them on the rental market as quickly as possible. To help get them occupied, there are plans to reduce the monthly rent on the flats—surprisingly, in many towns, renting or buying a public flat can be more expensive than for a normal one. According to information gathered by La Vanguardia, in the past months, the Generalitat has been carrying out a re-count of the properties that Incasòl and the Agència de l´Habitatge de Catalunya (responsible for these social housing flats) have empty. These two public companies previously depended on different departments, but they now both come under the conseller Lluís Recoder. Once the accounts were done, it was found that of the 14,000 flats that form part of the Generalitat's stock of social housing, 23 percent are unoccupied.