It was unlikely that the budget plan of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez would make it. Now, on Wednesday, February 13th, the Spanish parliament has voted against it.
Because Sanchez has a minority in the parliament, he needed the votes of the Catalan nationalists to get approval for his plan. That is why Sanchez started negotiations with Catalonia. This caused much frustration on the part of Spanish nationalists. Catalonia had stated that they would only vote in favor of the budget plan if there would also be negotiations on an autonomous government for the region.
On Sunday, February 10th, there were big protests against the prime minister’s budget negotiations with the Catalan nationalists. Tens of thousands of protesters came together at the Plaza de Cólon in Madrid to protest against what they saw as a divided Spain. The protest was summoned by the right-wing parties Partido Popular, Ciudadanos and Vox. Protesters are angry, feeling the government should no longer seek to pacify Catalan separatists. According to the protesters, there have already been too many concessions, which cause an even more divided Spain.
There has been a crisis in Catalonia since October 2017, when two million Catalans voted in a referendum in favor of the independence of Catalonia. That referendum, however, had been forbidden by the authorities in Madrid. After the voting, Catalonia declared its independence, but the Spanish authorities did not tolerate this — they temporarily took over the Catalonian government. And on February 12th of this year, a trial of the 12 Catalan leaders who played an important role in the referendum has started. The Catalan separatists face 12 to 25 years in prison. The trial is arguably one of the most important ones in Spanish history.
That the Spanish parliament has voted against the budget of Sanchez means that his cabinet is falling apart. The people who gathered at Plaza de Cólon are probably going to get what they wanted: new elections, expected to take place at the end of May.