Pressure to pass budget

Pedro Sánchez makes deal with Podemos to approve 2019 budget, and courts pro-independence parties to reach majority of 171 votes in Congress

Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, yesterday announced a deal with the leftwing Podemos party to pass the 2019 budget, after agreeing to measures such as raising the minimum wage to 900 euros. Yet, with 170 votes from opposition parties against, Sánchez needs the votes of the PNB Basque nationalists and those of Catalonia’s pro-independence ERC party, with at least eight abstentions from the Catalan PDeCAT party, to get the 171 votes needed for the budget to pass. Yesterday, the Spanish government was applying maximum pressure on the pro-independence parties so as to bring them on board.

Spanish government sources admitted getting the votes of ERC is more likely than getting those of PDeCAT. “We cannot talk about budgets if the Spanish government does not make a move on the right to self-determination, and the issue of the political prisoners and exiles,” said Catalan vice president Pere Aragonès (ERC).

However, the vice president of PDeCAT, Míriam Nogueras, took a harder tone on Twitter: “We repeat for the umpteenth time: if there are no gestures or movement in relation to the political prisoners and exiles, and there is no political proposal on self-determination, PSOE will get a NO from us on the budget,” she wrote.

Yet, Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, was confident yesterday that the coalition of parties that came together to oust Mariano Rajoy’s PP party from office can do so again to pass the budget. “I think that we will reach agreement with ERC, PDeCAT and PNB,” he said on Spanish television. As part of the seduction of the Catalan parties, treasury minister María Jesús Montero promised more funds: “Catalonia will get more than two billion euros for health and education and social services if they help pass the budget,” she said yesterday.

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