The organisers of the non-binding public 'referendums' on whether Catalunya should be an independent country are starting a campaign to try to ensure that all Catalan municipalities that have not yet hold a vote do so on April 10th (read article in Catalan here, Avui). This date is significant as it's the day on which Barcelona, the largest city in Catalunya, is due to hold its public vote on the issue. So far, more than half the municipalities in Catalunya have staged the popular vote, which has no legal basis but is intended as a demonstration of the current level of support for an independent Catalunya; turnout has been low in the votes held so far, with some 600,000 people taking part in them, with the results always overwhelmingly in favour of independence. It is likely that whatever votes take place on April 10th will be the last in this wave of popular action that started in Arenys de Mar in September 2009. Since that time, there have been four key days on which many towns have held their vote, but there are still 410 municipalities that haven't held one. At the present time, only three places apart from Barcelona have planned one for April 10th, Blanes, Gavà and Bagà, while Terrassa is due to hold its vote on January 23rd.
Figures released by the Spanish Employment Ministry today show that unemployment in the country continued to grow last year, with an increase of 176,470 people out of work here (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). This brings to 4.1 million people who are seeking employment, a rise of 4.5 percent compared to 2009, according to the Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración. This is the highest number of unemployed people recorded in Spain since records began in 1996. However, the increase in unemployment during the year was significantly less than in 2008 and 2009, when the numbers looking for work rose by 999,416 and 794,640 respectively. As such, 2010 is historically the third worst year in terms of rising unemployment figures, but the best since the latest economic crisis started. In December, the number of people out of work in Spain actually fell by 10,221, a reduction of 0.25 percent compared to November.
A partial solar eclipse has been visible in Catalunya this morning, the first of four such eclipses that will take place this year (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). However, this is the only eclipse that will be seen here but as daybreak started, clouds prevented a good view of the phenomena in Barcelona until around 9am. Montjuïc castle was the focal point for many families and interested observers as a place to watch the sight of the moon partly covering the sun. The eclipse has been visible not only in Europe, but also in northern Africa and parts of central Asia and lasted between one and two hours depending on the location. The next partial solar eclipse that will visible in Catalunya will not be until March 20th, 2015.