The Popular Party is to modify its own 2018 budget in the Senate, Spain's upper house of parliament, the party's congressional spokesman, Rafael Hernando, announced during a TV interview on Monday morning.
The move comes after the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV)—which had voted in favour of Mariano Rajoy's much delayed 2018 budget on May 24—switched its five votes in Congress to support the new Prime Minister, Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez, at the vote of no confidence against Mr. Rajoy last Friday.
The budget as it stands—which passed its first readings and the amendment stage in the lower house—includes some €500 million of additional infrastructure investment for the Basque Country, considered to be the price exacted by the PNV for supporting the bill.
"We don't want to prejudice anyone", said Mr. Hernando, grinning: "but the PNV has broken the budget agreement and when you break agreements, you know what that means".
The Popular Party spokesman has a reputation for being a rhetorical bulldog who does not mince his words when charging against the opposition. He said the PP no longer felt politically "linked" to the PNV.
He would not admit to the interviewer directly that the move was revenge against the Basque nationalist for supporting Mr. Sánchez over Mr. Rajoy, instead suggesting the changes would be about improving the budget for pensioners, they key PP electoral constituency.
"The elderly should be quite calm", he said: "they are going to see one of the biggest [pension] rises in our history".
The chairman of the Basque Nationalist Party, Andoni Ortuzar, told a radio programme on Monday that any such move "would be such a low trick from the PP that it would deserve a joint response from all of the other [parties] so that they can't do it".
The Popular Party currently commands a comfortable overall majority in Spanish Senate: 147 out of 266 seats, versus 62 seats for the Socialist Party.
PSOE parliamentary spokeswoman Margarita Robles wondered how the PP had managed to shift its position on the budget so quickly: "obviously if last week they were telling us this is the best budget to solve Spain's problems […] in theory the PP cannot now table amendments in the Senate, it wouldn't be coherent for Spain".
During the no confidence debate on Thursday in Congress, Pedro Sánchez promised to keep the PP's budget for this year, a key part of the plan to convince Basque Nationalists to support him against Mr. Rajoy, which they then did.
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