Spain’s Socialist PM takes political risk with spending plan

Photo: Reuters

 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says he will take his 2019 national budget proposal to a vote in parliament, even though his center-left minority government doesn’t currently have enough support to get it approved.

The move is a political gamble that could trigger a snap election if Sanchez’s Socialist administration fails to win parliamentary approval for his spending plan.

Sanchez said in an interview with Spain’s official EFE news agency published Tuesday in newspaper El Diario that his Cabinet will approve the budget proposal later this week. The next step is the plan’s presentation in parliament, probably next month.

Sanchez has the support of the far-left Podemos party but must persuade smaller parties to back his spending plan, because his two main rivals — the pro-business Ciudadanos and the conservative Popular Party — are both refusing to support it.

The interview provided a starting gun for what analysts anticipate will be an eventful political year in the eurozone’s fourth largest economy.

Sanchez says his ambition is to remain in office until the current legislative term ends in 2020, but his Socialists hold only 84 of the 350 seats in the country’s lower house.

He defended his efforts to exhume the remains of the country’s 20th-century dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco — a deeply sensitive issue and one of his government’s headline policies — though he acknowledged the process is taking longer than expected.

He chided the Popular Party and Ciudadanos for considering a political alliance with the anti-immigrant, extreme right Vox party in Andalucia. The new party won 12 seats in that region’s 109-member parliament last month and holds the key to forming a government there.

Sanchez vowed to continue his policy of dialogue with secessionists in the Catalonia region, even though it has provided political ammunition for his opponents who say the separatists must be shunned.

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