The Electoral Board of Barcelona is to respond today to an application from the Generalitat regarding the protesters camped out in Plaça Catalunya (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Board will decide whether the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, should take any action on Saturday, which is a day of reflection following the municipal election campaign for Sunday's vote, in the face of the ongoing demonstration, which has seen hundreds of people camping in the city centre square for the past few days. The decision will be taken after similar considerations have been resolved in Madrid, Valencia, Seville and Granada, but around the same time as a ruling from the Central Electoral Board, which will unite the criteria applied by its various provincial organisations. In Madrid, Seville and Granada, the protests have been banned for taking place during an official electoral campaign, while in Valencia the opposite decision was taken, allowing the protest in the city's Plaza del Ayuntamiento to continue. However, in those places where the protest, which is against current economic and other policy being applied by local and central government, has been banned, many people have said that they will not leave their camp.
The basilica of Santa Maria del Mar in the Born area of Barcelona has inaugurated a new system to stop pigeons roosting in it and causing damage to the stonework (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). An electronic system has been installed to protest the façade from city-dwelling birds while holes through which the pigeons and other birds could enter to nest have been closed up. In this way, it's hoped to reduce the amount of bird droppings that fall on the church, which contains elements that erode the stone walls, gargoyles and window-frames. Architect Andreu Bosch said that when working on this, the second phase of restoration for the church, he and his team had been surprised by the large number of pigeons that had made their home in the building's orifices. Many of the holes once contained supports that held up a bridge that is no longer there, and as such they could now be filled in: "In this way, we have reduced the number of pigeons flying about the walls by 80 percent," said Bosch. The church restoration will continue until 2014 at a cost of €3.6 million; this second phase cost €414,000 while the third and final stage is due to cost €1.4 million.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel was yesterday labelled "anti-European" and "populist" by local opposition parties for statements she made criticising certain southern European countries, including Spain, for what she considers the large number of holidays they enjoy during the year (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Merkel said that EU countries with high levels of public debt should work more, retire later and take less holidays, as, she said, the Germans do. "It can't be that in countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain, people retire earlier than they do in Germany," said Merkel at a meeting of members from her party, the Christian Democratic Union. In Germany, the retirement age has been raised from 65 to 67, but is being introduced in a progressive way from this year, similar to the proposal that has been put in place by the Zapatero government for Spain. In terms of holidays, Germany has less public holidays than Spain, and the country has been criticised by German analysts for its tradition of 'bridging' (where if a bank holiday falls on a weekday, people take other days off to make a long weekend), especially when there are so many people currently out of work here; this happened during last December's wildcat strike by air traffic controllers, who, it was also mentioned by German commentators at the time, earn twice what their German counterparts do.