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Budget defeat puts Spain's center-left government on ropes

AP  |  Madrid 

Catalan separatist and right-wing lawmakers in the Spanish parliament's lower house rejected Wednesday the ruling Socialist government's 2019 budget plan, likely paving the way for a call of early elections by

The vote, with one abstention, opens a new crisis in Spanish Members of the cabinet had signaled that a defeat in parliament would lead to a

The only other time that a lost a budget vote, in 1995, the Socialists were forced to dissolve the parliament and call an election.

Pablo Casado, of the conservative People's Party, said Wednesday's vote was "a de facto confidence vote against "

Catalan deputies from pro-independence parties had demanded to open talks on the northeastern region's self-determination in exchange for supporting Sanchez's spending proposal, but the center-left minority government had rejected that.

The holds only 84 seats in the 350-seat lower house. Its votes and those of the anti-austerity weren't enough to counter a majority of center-right, conservative and smaller parties voting in favor of six blanket objections.

Sanchez became in June when the Catalans joined the anti-austerity Podemos and other smaller parties in backing a no-confidence vote against his conservative predecessor,

Without parliamentary support, can't pass significant legislation and would need to prolong Rajoy's 2018 spending plan. That leaves the center-left administration without funds for social policies that are key to retaining Podemos' support.

Sanchez rushed out of the lower house's chamber shortly after the vote, dodging questions by reporters.

His minister, Maria Jesus Montero, said that it made sense that Sanchez's term, which ends next year, would be shortened with the budget rejection but that it was up to the himself to decide if and when to call a new

Talks between and a new separatist coalition that took power in Catalonia after 2017's failed independence push broke down last week when the government refused to accept self-determination talks.

The ongoing trial against a dozen politicians and activists who drove the breakaway attempt in Catalonia two years ago has further angered many pro-independence supporters.

The politically charged trial entered its second day on Wednesday with the criticizing what he said were defense lawyers' attempts to turn the proceedings into an examination of the Spanish state and judiciary.

called "ridiculous" and "unjustified" the arguments made on Tuesday, the trial's opening day, by defense lawyers who called the case politically motivated and an attempt to eliminate dissent in the troubled northeastern region.

Twelve Catalan politicians and activists face years behind bars if they are convicted of rebellion or other charges for having pushed ahead with a unilateral independence declaration that opened an unprecedented political crisis in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 20:00 IST