After various days of discussion regarding the plans of the Spanish government to make changes to the national retirement and pension scheme, they have now backtracked over what seemed to one of the key proposals (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Economic Minister Elena Salgado told a radio programme last night that the suggestion of changing to 25 from 15 the starting age from which a worker’s state pension will be calculated has been removed from the government’s programme of cuts for the next four years, which has had to be submitted to the EU. A press release from Salgado’s department said that the notion was nothing more than “a simulation” that was part of a “hypothetical” scheme to improve part of the public finances.
The radical wing of the violent FC Barcelona supporter group ‘Boixos noies’ (Crazy boys), the ‘casuals’, have been targeted by the Catalan police in an effort to break up the mafia they had developed, which had nothing to do with football (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). While the ‘casuals’ used to be a common feature at Barça matches, where they threatened and frightened other spectators at the stadium (until the current president of Barça, Joan Laporta took action against them and in return received death threats), in recent times they have moved towards threatening businesses and workers in various nightclubs in Barcelona and nearby towns, as way to make money for themselves. Using fear and violence against owners, managers and bouncers of the discos, the members of the ‘casuals’ managed to keep their operation going because none of their victims dared report them—still none of them has dared to speak in public about the matter. Yesterday, the Mossos d’Esquadra arrested between 15 and 20 presumed members of the 'casuals' group in seven different Catalan towns and cities.
The Generalitat president José Montilla has indicated that he hopes to continue at the head of the Catalan government after this autumn’s elections but that he wants his party to get enough votes that he won’t have to look to a coalition like the ‘tripartit’ that currently governs (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Although Montilla didn’t specifically say that he doesn’t want another coalition government, he said that his aim for the Generalitat elections is to get a result that will let him govern “with the greatest freedom”, widely interpreted as wanting to get a sufficient majority to rule alone. His words come just a few weeks after the leader of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), Joan Puigcercós, showed similar reluctance to enter into the same joint government with Montilla’s Partit dels Socialistes del Catalunya (PSC) and Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (ICV) that is currently in charge. However, Puigcercós was in favour of reaching agreement with just PSC, if ERC once again got enough votes to be ‘kingmaker’ as it has in the past two Generalitat elections.
Also in the news: Green light given to plan for luxury hotel at Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Trade unions concerned over implications for civil servants resulting from new Catalan administrative areas (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Thirteen Spanish towns competing to be the location for the nuclear waste 'cemetery' (read full article in Catalan here, Avui)