The participation rate in yesterday’s popular votes on Catalan independence was 17.5 percent, a significant drop from the last two rounds of the non-binding referendums that were held in February and last December (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Almost 300,000 people in different towns around Barcelona, including Girona and Lleida, took part in the vote with 92.4 percent of participants voting in favour of the proposal that Catalunya become independent—this means that now almost 500,000 Catalan residents have taken part in the popular votes. Turnout was particularly low in some of the larger towns: in Lleida and Reus, only 8.2 percent and 14.7 percent respectively, took part in the vote. In contrast, in Girona, 21.4 percent of those eligible took part and over 26 percent in Olot. Organisers said that they were satisfied with the result, bearing in mind that they had very few resources to promote the initiative and, in some places, little support from the local authorities.
The Spanish opposition party, the Partido Popular (PP) have accused the governing Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) of perverting the division of powers in Spain, following the support of a government member in one of the weekend protests in favour of Judge Baltasar Garzón (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The secretary of state for Territorial Cooperation, Gaspar Zarrías, was seen at one a demonstration in Madrid on Saturday, causing the PP to launch its attack on the PSOE. Zarrías said that “nobody in the PSOE wants revenge, but it’s necessary to open the wounds and clean them so that they don’t get infected.” However, the PP's number two, María Dolores de Cospedal said “Some attitudes of significant people in the Spanish government are putting democracy at risk,” in response to Zarría’s participation in the Madrid demo, while the PP has also said that the public protests are intolerable pressure on the Supreme Court. Cospedal and the number two of the PSOE, José Blanco, engaged in an exchange of accusations over the matter yesterday. Previously, the PP had been staying out of the spotlight regarding the controversy that has arisen over the case opened against Garzón for his attempts to investigate crimes committed under General Franco Francisco. Demonstrations on Saturday also took place outside Spain in countries including Argentina, the UK, France, and Mexico.
Members of various gangs in the town of Canovelles in the Vallès Oriental area have taken the initiative to repair the damage that they had caused to a local park (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The park of Can Carrencà is a place where up to 50 young people used to gather at night, with a mixture of nationalities and gangs present, including Moroccans, South Americans, Spanish and Sub-Saharan Africans; their presence caused concern to neighbours who reported them on various occasions to the police. Following the intervention of a local youth worker, Joan Carles Tapia, the majority of the groups decided to abandon their nightly gatherings in the park in favour of the Casal de Joves (a centre for young people), which is specially opened for them at night. It was during one of their get-togethers there that the idea arose for repairing damage done to the park. They have since cleaned rubbish and excrement, left-overs from the parties they had, repaired broken litter-bins and got rid of graffiti. Neighbours reacted positively to their efforts, bringing them food and drink while they were working, while local police, who had imposed hundreds of fines on the youths because they had broken municipal laws on drinking in public, have decided to withdraw the punishments if the gang members continue with the cleaning programme.
Also in the news: Barcelona musical theatre suffers effects of crisis (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Fernando Verdasco wins Barcelona’s Godó tennis tournament (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); First beatification for 900 years takes place in Barcelona (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).