The businessman and former director of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, has formally announced his pre-candidature for the presidency of the sports club, elections for which will take place on June 13th (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Rosell, who had a famous falling-out with the current president and one-time close ally, Joan Laporta, made the announcement at his new electoral campaign headquarters, surrounded by the team who will make up his board of directors if he is successful in his bid, and with around 1,000 supporters, many of whom were forced to listen from the pavement outside. Using the slogan ‘Tots som el Barça’ (‘We are all Barça’), Rosell said that he wanted “to send a message of excitement and motivation. We can make a victorious Barça, the best team in the world. We won’t fail.” He added that he wanted everyone to forget past “confrontations” and hoped for a clean campaign.
Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has announced a series of austerity moves to help ease the current financial crisis (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Zapatero revealed his government's plans to the Spanish congress, which he hopes will reduce the amount of the country’s public deficit to three percent of gross domestic product (producto interior bruto, or PIB) by 2013. One aspect of the measures includes a reduction in pay for funcionarios (civil servants) by up to five percent and a pay freeze in 2011—the reduction will be proportional to salaries earned, which means that those who earn most will suffer the biggest cuts. Other measures will see government members have their salaries cut by 15 percent and from January 1st, 2011, the so-called cheque-bébé, a €2,500 benefit given to parents on the birth of a new baby, will no longer be available. In addition, state pensions will be frozen, except those which are non-contributory and minimum rate.
The Spanish health minister, Trinidad Jiménez, said yesterday that a new, tougher version of the country’s anti-smoking law will be in force by the start of 2011 (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Despite earlier efforts to get the law in place for the first half of this year, the final date for its application has been pushed back various times. Jiménez said that the government was currently negotiating the terms of the law with different parliamentary groups, and predicted that the proposition for the law will be before the Health Commission of the Spanish Congress in June and should be approved by the autumn. The law will eliminate all current exceptions that let people smoke in certain public spaces, such as bars and restaurants under 100 square metres who have chosen to let customers smoke in their establishments in accordance with the previous incarnation of the law, which came into being in 2006. The only places where smoking will be allowed according to the new law, are jails, psychiatric hospitals and a limited number of bedrooms in hotels and hostels. The minister said that 75 percent of the Spanish population doesn’t smoke, but that tobacco smoke causes up to 5,000 deaths a year, so it is necessary to provide more smoke-free areas.
Also in the news: US President Obama telephones Zapatero to urge him towards spending cuts (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Judge Baltasar Garzón accepts offer to work for seven months at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); King Juan Carlos I leaves Barcelona hospital and praises national public health system (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Historic chemist’s gets rid of its old features as part of a renovation (read full article in Catalan here, Avui).