Spanish parliament approves left-wing govt’s 2021 budget

MADRID (AP) — The lower house of Spain’s parliament approved a proposed 2021 budget Thursday in what was seen as a vote of confidence in the left-wing coalition government’s plans for increased spending on infrastructure, education, employment and health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A majority of 188 lawmakers in the 350-seat chamber voted to pass the budget plan. Representatives from the main conservative and right-wing parties voted against it.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had to rely on support from myriad small and regional nationalist parties to get the spending plan through, leading to charges he is reliant on groups that aim to damage Spanish unity.

But Sánchez’s supporters said the variety of the lawmakers endorsing the budget showed strength and confidence.

“Never has a budget received the support of so many groups and so many parties,” said the Socialist Party’s Congress of Deputies spokeswoman, Adriana Lastra. She said the vote indicated Sánchez’s government would “be around for many years.”

The vote was one of the biggest shows of support for Sánchez since he first took office in mid-2018.

The government previously had to run the country with extensions to a budget drawn up by the previous conservative government, which severely curtailed social spending.

The new budget must still be approved in the Senate before the end of the year but is not expected to face obstacles there.

Spain is struggling to recover from the economic shock from the coronavirus pandemic, which has raised unemployment and stymied economic growth.

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