Spain government's budget passes in narrow victory for Rajoy

FeaturesAssociated Press

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government has narrowly won a key test when lawmakers passed its 2017 budget.

The public spending plan of Rajoy's conservative Popular Party, the first since 2008 without major cutbacks, was backed by business-friendly Ciudadanos, moderate Basque nationalists and lawmakers from the Canary Islands.

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It passed in a 176-172 vote, with two lawmakers absent in the 350-member lower house of parliament. The opposition Socialists, the anti-establishment Podemos party and other minority parties voted against the budget.

With Wednesday's victory, Rajoy gets room to maneuveur until 2019. The country's constitution allows him to renew the spending plan next year even if he doesn't get enough parliamentary support.

The budget will take effect in mid-June after it's passed by the Senate, where PP holds a comfortable majority.