Business-owners in the Eixample Esquerra, Rambla and Verdi areas are calling for the opportunity to open on Sundays (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Responding to the growth in tourists who visit the city at the weekend, especially those from cruise ships who are dropped off on a Sunday, as well as to the large numbers of residents who go to certain parts of the city the same day to go to the cinema, for example, businesses are seeking greater freedom regarding their opening-hours. This issue has been debated since the approval of a law on commercial hours in Catalunya at the end of 2004: the current legislation states that those shops that are allowed to open on Sunday (beyond the eight days officially allowed, for instance, around Christmas and Kings’ Day) have to be declared as located in a tourist town or zone, or by located close to a market, which would allow nearby shops to open during the same timetable as the market. This means that certain souvenir shops in the Sagrada Familia and La Rambla are currently able to open on Sunday. The Gran Eixample organisation, which includes associations from Avinguda Diagonal, Gran Via, Urgell and Balmes, is seeking the right, rather than the obligation, for businesses to be able to open to the public on Sunday, based on the fact that it believes that with the number of tourists and residents passing through those streets at the weekend could actually make it more profitable than Mondays, according to spokesperson David Martí. A similar call has been made by certain business-owners close to the Cines Verdi and in Torrijos, who believe that Sunday afternoons could prove to be more important commercially than two week-days together.
Party interests are interfering with attempts to reform the Catalan electoral system (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The president of the Generalitat, José Montilla, is hoping to reach an agreement in the near future about the electoral law, but the various political parties involved in formulating the new system are having problems reaching agreement on what would be acceptable in accordance with their own needs. Currently, the parliamentary electoral system here is based on that used throughout the autonomous communities in Spain, with some ‘minor’ alterations, although these alterations can have a major impact on the results of Generalitat elections, as happened in 1999 when the party with the most votes, PSC (Catalan Socialist Party), actually obtained less seats than CiU (Convergencia i Unió); the same thing happened in 2003, but to the advantage of PSC. The reasons for this are two-fold: certain provinces are over-represented in the Parliament—while Barcelona has 75 percent of the region’s population it only has 63 percent of the seats in the Catalan parliament; in contrast, Lleida has six percent of the Catalan population but 11 percent of the deputies in parliament. Distortion is also caused by the fact that each of the parties focus their votes and campaigns in particular areas. Any change in the system would thus negatively affect one or more of the parties taking part (eg. a higher level of proportionality would negatively affect the nationalist parties) causing their reluctance to decide on a particular new approach.
Renfe is advising train passengers to avoid the station of Sant Andreu Arenal when possible, due to significant disruption as a result of building works taking place there as part of the high-speed AVE development (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The works started yesterday and are due to last six months (up to September 12th) affecting the Rodalies trains travelling between Barcelona and the towns of Vic and Sabadell, as well as the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (lines R3, R4 and R7). Although the beginning of the works started relatively smoothly yesterday, the true test of the alternative system put in place for those people wanting to travel to and from those places will come next Tuesday when schools and universities return after the Easter break: on a working week-day, up to 25,000 people use the station. For those people who arrive in Sant Andreu and want to continue into the centre of Barcelona, or who need to get to Sant Andreu, the alternative transport options are: to take the metro to or from the Fabra i Puig station (L1) or use a special bus service that connects with the Sagrera-Meridiana stop (L1 and L5) or the Rodalies station, Clot-Aragó. In theory, it should take a passenger from Barcelona only an additional 20 minutes to reach Vic, Sabadell or the UAB compared to when the normal service is operating.
Also in the news: Barça midfielder Iniesta to miss Arsenal clash (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Woody Allen visits Fundació Miró with his family (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Seven people killed on Catalan roads on first weekend of Easter break (read full article in Catalan here, Avui)