The current Catalan opposition party has been served another boost to its hopes of victory in this autumn’s Generalitat elections, with a new poll suggesting that they are just a few seats off winning an absolute majority (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). According to the poll, carried out by GESOP for El Periodico newspaper, if an election was held now, Convergencia i Unió (CiU) would win between 61 and 63 seats in the Catalan parliament, a rise of 13 to 15 on what they currently hold and close to the 68 needed for a majority. This would give them a lead of 9.6 points over the current biggest party, Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (PSC), which would lose between one and three seats. The biggest loser, according to this poll, however, would be the nationalist left-wing party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), with the loss of some seven or eight seats; the poll found that many previous voters would switch support to CiU and a significant number (37.3 percent) of ERC voters who were questioned described as very bad the actions of the present government. Such losses would mean the near impossibility of a repeat of the current coalition government featuring ERC, PSC and left-wing green party ICV. Other features of the poll include: the rise of the right-wing Partit Popular party into third place in the parliament, the loss by the party Ciutadans per Catalunya of its two seats and the emergence of the new independence association Reagrupament led by Joan Carretero and supported by current Barça president, Joan Laporta. The poll was carried out between the 15th and 18th March, when a large number of people in Catalunya were still without power as a result of the heavy snow on March 8th, a factor that could have influenced the responses of some when asked about their voting intentions.
In an effort to recover some of the former glory of La Rambla, minor aesthetic renovations are being carried out on the Barcelona street in advance of the summer season (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Following the worldwide publication of photos showing prostitutes servicing clients in public spaces, the proliferation of pickpockets and muggers in the area and the popularity of the central Barcelona street with groups of drunken tourists, in recent times, the Rambla has seen its popularity amongst locals fall and its image among many visitors tarnished. As a result, the council has decided to make small improvements to the Rambla in an attempt to transform the space while at the same time preserving its traditional spirit. The idea is to ensure that the street doesn’t deteriorate any more than necessary and naturally occurs as a result of so many people visiting it, while bigger long-term projects to improve the businesses, cultural and night-life offerings in the area are also in place. The changes to be done now include the replacement of the drainage system and improvement of the street’s lighting, which in some parts of La Rambla is almost non-existent and contributes to security problems.
The mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, has sacked the councillor Miguel Ángel Martín López for comments the latter posted about the head of Catalan television Mònica Terribas on his Facebook page (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Martín, a member of the executive of the Catalan Socialist Party group in Barcelona, has been removed from his post as councillor and vice-president in the Sant Martí district council due to the insults that he posted about Terribas following her interview of the Generalitat president, José Montilla, which was broadcast on TV3 last Monday. Martín is also director of the Institut Metropolità del Taxi, and there has been pressure from various other political groups and the Catalan Taxi Federation for his resignation. As director of the Taxi Institute, Martín has sent a letter to Terribas to apologise but has refused to resign.
Also in the news: New Spanish law introduces strict deadlines for private and public companies to pay suppliers (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Spanish vice-president criticises claim by PP European deputy that Zapatero is using ETA to win votes (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Per capita income of Catalans has returned to 2006 level (read full article in Catalan here, Avui)