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Spain’s lawmakers give PM bittersweet victory, extend price measures

In World
January 11, 2024

MADRID – Spain’s parliament on Wednesday passed two government decrees, including an extension of anti-inflationary measures, by a margin of just one vote, and voted down another, exposing the fragility of the ruling coalition that has just started its second term.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a Socialist, leads a minority government with far-left Sumar, but needs the support of several small parties, including separatists from the regions of Catalonia and the Basque Country, to pass legislation.

Catalan party Junts, which enabled the second Sanchez government in November after reaching a deal with the Socialists on an amnesty bill for those prosecuted over Catalonia’s attempts to secede from Spain since 2012, abstained after threatening earlier to vote against.

Junts had previously warned that its parliamentary support for the government would depend on each legislative proposal and on progress made concerning some of its demands for Catalonia. It said it agreed a range of last-minute concessions from Madrid, which allowed it to abstain in Wednesday’s votes.

The rejection of a decree reforming unemployment subsidies came due to opposition from left-wing Podemos, with five seats, which broke with Sumar a month ago.

Among the approved decrees were an extension into 2024 of measures helping Spaniards cope with high costs of living, such as a reduced value-added tax on basic staples, and measures designed to help Spain qualify for a new tranche of EU funds.

The latter involve the digitalisation of the judiciary and new criteria for hiring public servants to promote equality.

“If three decrees have put the government in check, it is terrifying to think what each week of this legislature will be like,” said Alberto Nunez Feijoo, leader of the main opposition People’s Party. REUTERS

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