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Catalan independence crisis delays passage of Spanish 2018 budget

Basque nationalists are withholding necessary support until after October 1 referendum date

Spanish Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro.
Spanish Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro. EL PAÍS

Spain’s finance minister on Tuesday announced that he will not be taking the 2018 budget plan to the Friday Cabinet meeting as planned.

“We lack assurances of support,” said Cristóbal Montoro.

Montoro wants to delay the budget presentation until after October 1, the date of the independence referendum that the Catalan government wants to hold in violation of Spanish legislation and court rulings.

A minority government has the obligation to seek backing

Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro

“We trust that the budget will be definitively approved in early 2018. It’s even possible that the new project will go into effect in January 2018,” he added.

In the meantime, Montoro will extend this year’s budget.

The move illustrates how the Catalan crisis has created tension across the political spectrum, opening a new rift between the Popular Party (PP) executive and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), whose backing the minority government needs.

In line with Spanish legislation, the government typically sends the budget blueprint to Congress before October 1. Parliamentary procedures usually extend around three months, including amendments in Congress and the Senate.

But the government will need the Basque nationalists’ five votes to push its budget bill through, and the party is withholding its support until after the Catalan conflict is resolved.

“A minority government has the obligation to seek backing, and we still lack assurance regarding all of our support. We will keep working and making progress on the negotiations,” said Montoro.

The government can already count on the reform party Ciudadanos, and it has made headway in gaining support from the two parties from the Canary Islands with parliamentary representation. Meanwhile, the main opposition Socialists (PSOE) refuse to back the PP on this subject.

English version by Susana Urra.

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