Spanish austerity plans just scrape through parliament

City A.M. Reporter
SPAIN’S governing Socialists won approval for a €15bn (£12.6bn) austerity package by just one vote yesterday, avoiding a defeat that would have rattled markets and potentially brought down the government.

The bill was approved by 169 votes in favour to 168 against, after the opposition Popular Party voted against, even making sure one of its deputies was brought to the session in an ambulance. The bill was only saved when 10 deputies from centre-right Catalan nationalists CiU abstained after criticising the bill, saying they did not want Spain to be plunged into a Greek-style crisis. But CiU said they would not support the 2011 budget bill raising doubts over how Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will be able to continue to steer his country through a time of crisis.

CiU leader Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida told parliament Zapatero should call early elections next year. “The problem is you and your government,” he told Zapatero.

May 2012 is the latest date for the government to call elections.

If the bill had been defeated, the government’s plans to get its budget deficit under control would have been thrown into disarray.