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Budget debate to test Spanish government's strength

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/05/2017

MADRID — Lawmakers have begun debating Spain's 2017 budget, a first major test of strength for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's six-month-old conservative minority government.

Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro began defending his income and spending plan Wednesday. On Thursday, and lawmakers are to vote on whether to proceed with the debate ahead of possible final approval or rejection later this month.

The plan is the first since the global financial crisis in 2008 that does not include major cutbacks.

It must eventually be approved by a majority in the 350-seat parliament.

Rajoy's Popular Party, with 137 seats, has the support of the business-friendly Ciudadanos party's s 32 deputies and one Canary Island deputy but it must muster six more votes for the budget to survive.

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