The president of the autonomous community of Valencia, Francisco Camps of the Partido Popular (PP), resigned from his post yesterday, but said that he was leaving with a "calm conscience" (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Valencian government called an emergency press conference yesterday afternoon after Camps failed to appear in the morning at the Superior Justice Court of Valencia as he was scheduled to do, to declare himself guilty of bribery in the so-called 'case of the suits' (in which Camps is accused of receiving several suits as gifts, although he has claimed that he paid for them). Camps told the press that he had presented his resignation to the president of the Valencian parliament, Joan Cotino, who will now take steps towards arranging the election of a new president of the region. In his statement, Camps said "I'm leaving surrounded by friends, colleagues, loyalties and illusion." He also said that he was fed up with everything that had happened, saying that the resignation had been a personal decision, taken to benefit his party with the objective that leader PP Mariano Rajoy "becomes the next president of Spain." Despite his resignation, Camps insisted that he will continue to defend his actions in the face of the bribery charge, and reiterated that he is "completely innocent".
Catalunya's finances are in a worse situation than a year ago according to the majority of economists questioned in a survey for the Col·legi d'Economistes de Catalunya (read article in Catalan here, Avui). However, while the actual figure of those concerned about the state of the local economy was 55 percent of those asked, in the same survey taken in 2010, the percentage was 70 percent and in 2009, 90 percent. Economists "believe that the seriousness of the situation is ongoing, even though there has been a slight improvement," according to Joan B.Casas, dean of the Col·legi, who also said that of those questioned, 62 percent were in favour of the Catalan government's policy of spending cuts (see below). Casas added that the international situation wasn't helping Catalunya, and continuing uncertainty regarding Greece was having "a lot of influence on the state of business spirits" here. He noted that if an agreement could be reached on what to do about the situation, "confidence would grow and the economy would improve."
The governing Convergència i Unió party (CiU) managed to pass its Generalitat budgets yesterday thanks to an agreement with the Partido Popular, which saw members of the latter abstain in the final vote on the Catalan government's spending plans for this year (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). CiU also benefited from the support of Joan Laporta, the only non-CiU deputy to vote in favour of the budget; the overall result was 62 in favour, 54 against and 18 abstentions. The plan includes a 10 percent reduction in costs for this year compared to 2010, with a planned spend of €27.2 billion; on this basis, Catalunya will finish 2011 with a public budget deficit of €5.4 billion, representing 2.66 percent of GDP, double what was originally forecast because the Spanish government hasn't paid Catalunya the €1.4 billion owed from a competitiveness fund. Today could be more difficult for the government to achieve its aims, with a vote due on whether to raise the cost of water rates by 9.5 percent; it is not clear that any of the other parties will support CiU on this. The Catalan Socialist Party criticised Convergència for lowering taxes and "dismantling services that it has taken to many years to build up."