The Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero yesterday tried to put a brake on the pressure for him to call early general elections (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). He tried to reiterate his wish to see out this parliamentary term, which would mean calling elections for March 2012, a message that he has been unable to defend properly in recent times. The government is concerned that the open discussion about the possibility of elections this autumn both within the Spanish Socialist Party (that Zapatero leads) and some business sectors is detracting from the efforts of the executive to deal with the current economic crisis that is affecting the Euro zone. Zapatero was in part reacting to an editorial published in yesterday's El País newspaper, calling on the prime minister to call elections as soon as possible. Following an intense discussion on the matter amongst Zapatero's adviser, the unusual step was taken of posting a message on the website of the prime minister's office (the Moncloa), setting out the reasons why he wants to see out the full term. These include the serious problems being suffered in Europe at the moment in the face of the Greek economic crisis, which suggest that calling an election would "threaten Spain's solvency and credibility". Other reasons given against early elections were the "parliamentary stability" that the government currently enjoys and its desire to see through the financial reform and laws pending in Congress at the moment.
The Generalitat's Civil Protection department has activated its anti-flood emergency programme in light of the heavy rain that has fallen in the past hours over Catalunya (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The storms have particularly affected the areas of Barcelonès, Baix Llobregat, Garraf and Maresme, and are expected to continue until mid-morning in some places, causing problems for those people travelling to work. The Inuncat flood emergency plan was activated just after 6am due to the sheer volume of rain falling, which passed the level of 20 milimetres in just 30 minutes in Barcelonès, Maresme and Baix Llobregat. The city of Barcelona has also activated its own plan to deal with heavy rainfall. Train services between Sants-Estació and Passeig de Gràcia were temporarily halted because of the rain, while some metro stations were also affected causing delays on the lines (links to another La Vanguardia article).
The number of domestic break-ins in Catalunya grew in the first six months of this year compared to 2010 (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Last year had already seen a rise in house robberies of 17 percent compared to 2009, with 22,470 thefts reported, and 2011 is on course to have even worse overall figures. Up to the end of June this year, 11,336 robberies had been reported, an increase of 14 percent on the same period in 2010. The average number of robberies was 62 per day while the daily average during this period in 2010 was 55. There has also been an increase in the number of violent robberies, an average of 1.3 per day, in response to which the Mossos d'Esquadra yesterday presented their new specific programme to deal with this kind of crime. The programme was inaugurated on July 1st and gives greater powers of investigation to the police with the aim of increasing the number of arrests carried out and the breaking-up of groups of robbers, the majority of which are not experts in this kind of crime. “They are amateur, opportunistic criminals, who take advantage of carelessness by their victims to rob their homes," said yesterday the head of the general territorial police commissioner's office of the Mossos, Joan Miquel Capell.