Spain's ruling party rejects new elections
The parliamentary leader of Spain's ruling Socialist Party rejected Friday the idea of new elections after the legislature passed an austerity plan for the country by only one vote.
"We are the majority in the chamber. We have always shown our ability to negotiate and we continue to do it," Jose Antonio Alonso told public radio RNE, although the Socialists do not have a working majority and must rely on smaller parties to govern.
The Socialists Thursday managed to pass the unpopular 15-billion-euro (18.5-billion-dollar) austerity plan, saving the government from probable collapse and easing markets' fears that Spain's financial crisis would engulf its economy.
The conservative opposition Popular Party and other parties opposed it.
Crucially, however, the 10 deputies of the Catalan nationalist CiU party were among those who abstained.
The head of the CiU, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, has urged Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to call new elections this autumn "when it is time to vote on the budget and we will not be able to pass it."
But Alonso held a different view.
"I have confidence that this year we are going to be able to approve the budget and that we are going to continue to govern the country," he said.
The Socialists under Zapatero came to power in 2004 and were re-elected in 2008.
The spokeswoman in parliament for the conservative opposition Popular Party told RNE radio Friday that Thursday's vote showed that the Socialist government is "absolutely alone," with her party voicing support for new elections.
© 2010 AFP