Spain’s budget bill removes another hurdle in parliament

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s left-wing minority government on Thursday won enough support in the deeply fragmented lower house of parliament to secure approval for its planned budget, which now goes to the Senate.

The spending plan, which was voted on article by article after passing its first hurdle on November 4 by 188-156 votes, is one of the largest in Spanish history, thanks to European stimulus funds in pandemic cases that will bring investments to 40 billion euros ($ 45 billion) next year.

It received the support of 11 parties, mostly from the left, while the main conservative opposition party, the Popular Party (PP), the far-right Vox and the center-right Ciudadanos voted against.

The support of the Catalan left-wing separatist party ERC was crucial in getting the bill passed.

It will now be debated in the upper house, or Senate, where parties can propose amendments that, if approved, would require a final vote in the lower house next month.

If no new amendments are introduced, the Senate vote will be the last and the plan will become the second consecutive budget approved by the minority coalition government that came to power in January 2020.

Many analysts believe the green light for the plan will be a litmus test of how long Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s coalition with far-left Unidas Podemos can last. Sanchez has always said he can rule the entire four-year term.

The Spanish economy is rebounding from a record 10.8% drop last year, albeit at a slower pace than expected. Hopes for recovery are set for 2022, but high inflation and global trade bottlenecks cloud projections.

The European Commission now expects Spain to grow 5.5% in 2022, down from 6.3% previously, but the government has so far maintained its optimistic forecast of 7% growth in the country. next year.

($ 1 = 0.8919 euros)

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip and Timothy Heritage)

Edward K. Thompson