Madrid (ACN).- Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government has agreed upon a new austerity package, ratified this Thursday with 180 votes from the People’s Party (PP), 131 votes against made up by the other parties and one abstention from the Unión del Pueblo Navarro (UPN). Various groups are protesting against the unpopular measures which include the suspension of the Christmas bonus for public sector officials, an increase in VAT, and a reduction in unemployment benefit after the sixth month. The finance minister, Cristóbal Montoro, defended the austerity plan as a "necessary sacrifice" on the way to economic recovery and that "giving up is not recommended or possible".
As announced, the Catalan nationalist party (CIU) voted against the decree. Josep Sánchez Llibre, the economic spokesman for the party, denounced the government’s attitude towards autonomous communities such as Catalonia. He criticised the measures as "erroneous and confiscatory" and said they will lead the state into a "war economy".
Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the Secretary General of the PSOE, also said that the new cuts approved by the Council of Ministers "do not fit" with deficit targets and will only bring more and more unemployment and recession. As he noted, the adjustments are "unfair and unacceptable" warning of a loss of 600,000 jobs in 2013.
There has already been widespread protest throughout Spain against the austerity measures designed to meet EU deficit targets and various groups have organised over 80 demonstrations across the country in response to the new cuts. The vote took place in congress, completely protected from the protests which have been taking place over the last few days. As a sign of objection, groups from the left wing walked out of proceedings in protest of the measures which are seen as a direct attack on the welfare state and some of the most demanding austerity plans in modern Spanish history.