Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has said that his government will take action against autonomous communities that don't make cuts in their spending (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Speaking to the Financial Times (FT), Zapatero said that the government has powerful tools to make sure that the communities take the necessary steps to reduce their budgets and bring public spending under control. "No regional government can create debt without the support, without the authority of the central government," he insisted in the interview carried out on January 13th and published in today's issue of the FT. Zapatero said that the government has the ultimate responsibility for the control of the public deficit: "We're the ones who have to head up, to lead the control of the public spending of the regional governments. They have to carry it out. They have to fulfill their obligations, because if they don't, the government will act."
FC Barcelona has entered the record-books once more with the number of points it has gathered at the end of the first half of this season's league games (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Catalan team played against Malaga at the Camp Nou last night, and notched up another big win, 4-1, which means that it has played 28 games without losing. Barça is now four points ahead of arch rivals Real Madrid at the top of the league with 52 points, the most that any Spanish team has achieved at this point of the season, and making the team the so-called 'winter Champions'. The rest of its statistics also point to a team that has glory in its sights: they've scored 61 goals with only 11 goals scored against them, and of the 28 games that they've played without losing, 23 have been wins. In last night's match, Barça scored its first goal in the 8th minute, thanks to Andrés Iniesta; ten minutes later came the second from David Villa and the third was scored by Pedro, again before the end of the first half. Although Malaga got one in the back of the net in the 68th minute, Barça were unthreatened and Villa scored again in the 74th minute to seal victory.
Mayors from 18 of the 22 municipalities in the metropolitan area of Barcelona have said that the 80 kilometre per hour speed limit on the roads in and out of the Catalan capital should be made flexible (read article in Catalan here, Avui). In a survey carried out on behalf of Avui, the large majority of the mayors questioned, who come from different political parties, said that they were in favour of introducing a speed limit that adapts to traffic conditions, for instance by letting cars go faster at night when there is less traffic, rather than abolishing it completely. The limit was introduced by the last Generalitat government, as a means to reduce pollution and accidents. One example of the responses of the local council leaders to the issue, which is being studied by the new CiU Catalan government as it promised to do during its election campaign, was that given by the mayor of Sitges, Jordi Baijet (Catalan Socialist Party). Baijet is in favour of making the speed limit flexible, although he did say that it had succeeded in reducing traffic jams and accidents on the highways in and out of the city. He also said that he would "never" completely eliminate the 80 kilometre per hour limit. However, he made no comment about the supposed effects on the environment of the measure.