Aug. 30 - Protesters take to the streets of Madrid as Spain's parliament discusses reforming the constitution to set a debt ceiling. Joanna Partridge reports.
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Protesters outside the Spanish parliament.
They're unhappy that the government has started debating reforms to the country's constitution - which would allow it to set limits on their debt and deficit levels.
SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) PROTESTER ALFREDO, SAYING:
"We're saying they should consult us before doing such a shameless thing. They should hold a referendum and not behave secretively."
The debate inside parliament on reforming the constitution only came about after a surprise agreement last week between Prime Minister Zapatero's governing Socialist party and the opposition Popular Party.
Recent figures showed Spain's growth slowed in the second quarter to just 0.2 percent and investors are worried about the country's ability to get its finances under control.
The opposition Popular Party's spokeswoman says they're working together to help Spain's economy.
SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) POPULAR PARTY SPOKESWOMAN SORAYA SAENZ DE SANTAMARIA, SAYING:
"We cannot spend more than we earn. From now on budgetary stability is not an option, it is a public duty, it is a constitutional duty because it is a indispensable condition for growth, job creation and the sustainability of our welfare state."
While the decision has led to protests at home, it pleased international markets.
Europe's economic powerhouses, Germany and France, recently called on Spain and other heavily-indebted euro zone nations to set limits on their deficits.
SOUNDBITE: (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING:
"The fact that Spain has written debt-limiting steps into its constitution is an encouraging sign that more and more European states have chosen this path of reason and want to fight the problems at their source."
Zapatero wants to cut Spain's budget deficit to 6 percent of GDP this year, from 9.2 percent in 2010.
But the government cuts are unpopular with voters and Spain will holds elections in November.
Joanna Partridge, Reuters
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