Catalunya is the community in Spain with the most speed detector radars (read article in Catalan here, Avui).This is despite the fact that its road network only represents seven percent of all the roads in the country. Catalunya has 192 speed radars, compared to 125 in Andalucia, the area with the next largest amount. Castelló y Leon have 80 speed detection radars, while Madrid has just 39. Overall, Catalunya has 419 percent more than in other parts of Spain, and this amount is set to rise in the coming months as technicians from the Servei Català de Transit are planning to install 30 new speed detection machines on Catalan roads. These figures were revealed in a study carried out by the Cercle Català de Negocis (CCN), which was made public yesterday. "This is just one more of the grievances that we have with Spain," said the general secretary of CCN, Joan Canadell, who expressed his regret that Catalans are the most negatively affected both by tolls and speed radars in Spain. Canadell also criticised the Generalitat for wanting to introduce more radars, calling it "added economic pressure on citizens", and questioned the claim of the Catalan interior minister that the machines were not there to raise money. "If they want to stop accidents with the radars, that's perfect, but they could opt for taking points off people's driving licences rather than fining drivers," commented Canadell.
The organisers of the non-binding referendum on Catalan independence that closes this Sunday in Barcelona, bringing to an end a series of popular votes that have taken place across Catalunya on the matter, say they will be happy with a turnout of 10 percent (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Aware of the difficulty of getting people to vote in non-official referenda, such as this consultation on the question of whether Catalunya should be an independent country, the organisers of '10-A' (short for 10th April, the date for the vote in Barcelona, although the collection of votes across the city has been going on for some time) don't want to aim too high for the results of the Catalan capital. "Seeing the participation levels that there have been in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, which have been around 10 percent, this is a number that we will be happy if we surpass," said the writer Alfred Bosch, who is spokesman for the organisation Barcelona Decideix (Barcelona Decides).The experience of the five waves of popular votes celebrated since the first initiative in Arenys de Mar in September 2009 have seen a notable decline in participation: 27.6 percent of eligible voters took place in the first one, falling to 21 percent, 17.4 percent, 14 percent and just 6.5 percent in the last round. The figures point to a much greater level of participation in the interior of Catalunya and medium-sized and smaller towns, while larger towns and cities have achieved a much lower turnout. On the basis of the census that the organisers are using for the Barcelona vote - anyone over the age of 16 who is registered on the city's census - a 10 percent participation would mean having 142,000 people taking part. The original aim of the popular vote here was to get more votes than were achieved with the council's consultation process on the proposed changes to the Diagonal, in which 172,161 people took part, around 12 percent of the census.
The president of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, has called on Catalans to regard the spending cuts that his government is introducing to deal with its budget deficit as an "investment" (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). "We're investing for the better; this is not spending for a lost cause but an investment so that future generations don't have to pay off the debts," he said yesterday. This is the message that Mas is adopting to convince citizens of the need for and appropriateness of the cuts that his government has adopted in its first 100 days in power. Mas also appealed for his support for his plan to renegotiate the financial agreement between Catalunya and the Spanish central government, which he is planning to undertake following next year's Spanish general elections. Although he says that any new deal won't be on the same terms as the financial agreement in place between Madrid and the communities of Navarra and the Basque country, he insisted that it would help Catalunya raise its taxes, manage them and recover part of this money. Mas criticised the attitude of some opposition parties regarding the financial pact saying that "when you talk about the issue, they don't put themselves into it", while in both Navarra and the Basque country, all the parties agree on the financial accord they have with Spain.