Spanish austerity budget clears first hurdle
Spain's risis-battling budget, which cuts spending by 7.9 percent next year, cleared a first hurdle on Wednesday when lawmakers narrowly rejected blocking amendments.
Lawmakers voted Wednesday by 177 votes to 167 to reject five blocking amendments, clearing the way for a November 10-11 first reading vote on the budget by the lower house of parliament.
After a first reading approval, the budget would still need clearance from the Senate and a final approval by parliament.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's budget pledges to reduce state expenditure next year by 7.9 percent to 122 billion euros (170 billion dollars), excluding financing costs.
It has to be approved before the end of the year.
Zapatero's Socialist Party secured enough votes to reject the amendments by enlisting the support of smaller parties.
On Monday, the prime minister secured the budget's near-certain passage by winning the support of a tiny regional party, the Canary Islands Coalition with two seats in the 350-seat parliament.
The government had sealed a similar deal on Friday with the Basque Nationalist Party, which has six seats in the assembly.
Lined up in favour of the blocking amendments were the main conservative opposition Popular Party and others including the Catalan and Gallician nationalist parties.
© 2010 AFP