The Spanish Congress will today start the 'express' process for changing the nation's constitution to enable for greater control of public debt (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). If forecasts regarding the procedure come to fruition, the amendment should become law in a week's time, following its approval in the Senate. The proposal put forward by Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero last Tuesday has been subject to faster proceedings as a matter of urgency because if it was to go through the normal channels, there wouldn't be time to approve it before the Spanish parliament is dissolved on September 27th in advance of the general elections taking place on November 20th. As a result, and following the agreement reached in record-breaking time between the ruling Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the opposition Partido Popular (PP), the two parties registered a joint initiative last Friday regarding the proposed change to Article 135 of the Spanish Constitution. The move will mean that the structural deficit of all Spanish public entities cannot exceed 0.4 percent of GDP, of which 0.26 percent will be the deficit limit for state spending. In terms of the autonomous communities, they won't be able to exceed 0.14 percent of their GDP in deficit.
Despite playing with a different line-up than they're used to, FC Barcelona started the 2011-12 season in style last night, with an insultingly easy 5-0 victory over Villarreal (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). On a night in which the lack of defenders (due to injury or sanction) was a major concern for the team, in the end it was one of the easiest matches of the 410 that Barça goalkeeper Victor Valdés has played. With a 3-4-3 line-up, the team was like a hurricane (vendaval) against a Villarreal side that came to appear like nothing more than a plaything for the Catalan team. It was also a night for first-timers, with new signings Thiago and Cesc Fabregás taking to the pitch for the first time in a league game—the two scored before half-time. The scoreline was completed in the second half by Alexis and Messi, who scored twice, with the team proving that anyone who wants to take the league away from Barcelona will have a serious struggle on their hands. The 5-0 result against a Villarreal that is taking part in the Champions League this year was also the best response to those who were wringing their hands after Real Madrid's overwhelming victory at Zaragoza on Sunday, 0-6. A long road lies ahead.
The number of people in Catalunya who are aged 100 and over has more than doubled in the past 10 years (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). In 2010, there were 1,407 centenarians living in the region, of which 1,124 were women and 283 were men, according to figures from Idescat, which gathers statistics from the padrón (electoral register) regarding the population. Just 10 years ago, the number of people of 100 and over here was 605 people, with 458 women and 147 men. The figures show that there are much more women than men who reach (and pass) the milestone age, a fact that many studies have demonstrated is due to factors including hormones, chromosomes and behaviour, amongst others. The statistics also show that Catalunya has a special place compared to the Spanish average. In Spain, there were 7,152 centenarians over 100 last year, of which 5,305 were women and 1,847 were men. While Catalunya represents 16 percent of the Spanish population, its centenarian population is actually 20 percent of Spaniards who are aged 100 or more.