MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government got parliamentary approval on Wednesday for its 2018 budget after the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) lent its support, avoiding delays some had feared would be caused by the political stand-off in Catalonia.
The ruling centre-right People’s Party (PP) needed support from the PNV to get the much-delayed budget through parliament because it lacks a parliamentary majority.
The budget contains pension increases agreed with the Basques. Spain, which has a deficit target for 2018 of 2.2 percent of economic output, expects its economy to grow 2.7 percent this year.
Ciudadanos (“Citizens”) and other regional parties also voted in favour of the plan, allowing for its approval.
The PNV had previously said it would support the budget only if Rajoy lifted direct rule over Catalonia, imposed by Madrid after the region declared independence from Spain in October.
On Wednesday, the Basque party said it hoped its decision would contribute to the early lifting of article 155, which enabled the direct intervention of Madrid in Catalonia. Voting against the budget would represent a gesture without real effects for Catalonia, it said.
“Far from constituting a blank check to the PP government, this decision allows the PNV to maintain its capacity of political influence in order to contribute to a dialogue and a solution in Catalonia,” the PNV said.
The Spanish government has so far maintained its direct rule of Catalonia. It objects to Catalan leader Quim Torra’s choices to become Catalan councillors, four of whom face charges related to last year’s independence drive.
Reporting by Jesús Aguado and Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Toby Chopra