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Spanish PM may call snap general election if budget rejected

Spanish PM may call snap general election if budget rejected

Spain’s socialist government could be forced to call a snap general election if rightwing parties and Catalan secessionists make good on their threats to reject the national budget in a key vote on Wednesday. The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, faces an uphill battle to secure approval for the budget in the face of opposition from…


Spain’s socialist government could be forced to call a snap general election if rightwing parties and Catalan secessionists make good on their threats to reject the national budget in a key vote on Wednesday.

The prime minister,Pedro Sánchez, faces an uphill battle to secure approval for the budget in the face of opposition from critics of his minority government.

Sánchez’s PSOE, which holds 84 of the 350 seats in congress, relied on the support of Basque and Catalan nationalist partiesto seize power from the conservative People’s partyin a confidence vote last year.

If, as seems likely, the budget is rejected by rightwing parties as well as the Catalan Republican Left and the Catalan European Democratic party, Sánchez is expected to call a snap general election in April or May. The next general election is due to be held next year.

The prime minister had been banking on the fact that the prospect of an early election – and a possible win for rightwing parties that fiercely oppose Catalan secession – would make the two big Catalan pro-independence parties swing behind the budget.

But, speaking to the Guardian and other European media, the Catalan leader, Quim Torra, said the secessionist groupings would not be forced into supporting Sánchez’s budget plans.

“Are we meant to approve the budget because we’re afraid of the Spanish right?” said Torra. “Mr Sánchez can obviously decide to call elections whenever he wants – he’s the prime minister. But why would he make dialogue conditional on approving the budget?

“Look, between the far right and a PSOE that won’t accept our right to self-determination, I choose Catalan independence.”

Efforts to find a political solution to the independence crisis have been hampered by pressure from rightwing parties – and by the start of thetrial in Madrid on Tuesday of12 Catalan separatist leaders.

On Sunday,tens of thousands of people joined a rallyin central Madrid to express their vent their fury at what they see as the overly conciliatory stance adopted by the Sánchez, and to demand a snap general election.

The demonstration was called by the People’s party and the centre-right Citizens party, and backed by the far-right Vox party. It also attracted some supporters of fascist and extreme-right groups.

On Tuesday morning, Sánchez warned that the Spanish right and Catalan independence leaders risked derailing important social measures in the budget.

“Both want the same thing,”he tweeted. “A Catalonia at odds with itself and a Spain at odds with itself. We’re working for a harmonious Catalonia and a united Spain.”

Spain’s treasury minister said the government would not cede “to any blackmail by anybody” when it came to the budget.

“Under no circumstance will we admit that the right to self-determination inCataloniaappears in any talking points,” María Jesús Montero said as Tuesday morning’s budget debate began.

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