Montilla has announced that the elections will take place on November 28th (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). José Montilla, president of the Generalitat de Catalunya announced yesterday that the elections are to be held on Sunday November 28th. "I call the people of Catalunya to exercise their democratic right on Sunday November 28th." The president warned that there was "much is at stake" in this election and asked the parties to "fair play and use clarity in the proposals." The announcement comes after a long wait and Montilla put special stress on what he saw as the historical moment that the elections will be, warning that the stakes even more "serious" in the context of the economic crisis in Catalunya and the "discredit suffered by the policy." He asked the Catalan citizens to "be aware of the extremely important moment in which we live" and solemnly summoned them to reflect and be aware that the road they decide to follow will "probably mark Catalunya for an entire generation." José Montilla finished his brief speech in Castilian after making the declaration in Catalan. The elections will come on month after the planned general strike, which is marked for September 29th and three week after Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Barcelona to enshrine the basilica of the Sagrada Familia. With this distance Montilla can ensure that any possible consequences suffered by the PSC thanks to the general election and to move further from the possibility that the strike could erode the party's popularity, in particularly in their traditional popular electoral areas, densely populated suburbs of the city, known as the 'cinturón rojo' (red belt). Montilla will also receive Benedict XVI, head of state and claims that his visit might mark or "coincide with the start of the campaign." Amongst the unknowns of the visit, if the price from the resulting from the security of the visit were to made public and Montilla was to approve of such spending then this might be a seen as a wink to the Catholic vote.
Ignacio Fernández Toxo, the secretary general of the CCOO has admitted that going on strike is a "gran putada" but warns that is is necessary (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Growing evidence that there is little support for the general strike, called for September 29th has led to the CCOO's general secretary saying that the mobilisation of people is a "putada" but is appropriate thanks to what he calls a "failure of social dialogue," and represents the inability of the social partners to agree on necessary reforms. He denied that there is no reason to strike saying "There are times when there is no choice but to do it and this, at the risk of making mistakes, I think is one of them." Elena Salgado, the economic vicepresident, speaking from Brussels, that the Government will maintain its current strategy of austerity and labour reforms despite strike actions and union pressure. Economic policy, she argued, is "necessary as the solution to the crisis," whilst acknowledging "the difficulties that many Spanish citizens are experiencing." These arguments are not sitting well with the unions however who mark the reforms as "the most regressive in history." Salgado argues that fiscal authority and economic and labour reforms are needed to boost economic growth, even though positive effects are not felt immediately.
Change of date for the Catalan Book Week to coincide with the Diada (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). This year will be the 28th year for the book festival but it will be the first time in a new venue and, according to the organisers will have a totally new spirit. After years at Plaça de Catalunya, Avenida de la Catadral and Sant Cugat del Vallès, this month the festival will now take place in the Parc de la Ciutadella, from September 10th to 19th, with more than 30,000 books for sale and over 200 acts are timetabled. The date change is due to the organiser's desire to link it to the Diada. President of the week, Pelach Albert, explained yesterday, "September 11th is indicative but increasingly cultural. We want to become a new Sant Jordi."