Gabriel Rufian, ERC's bench leader in parliament during the budget meeting. | EFE


The left-wing Catalan separatist party Esquerra Republicana (ERC) announced on Tuesday a preliminary agreement to back the Spanish government's budget proposal, paving the way for the minority coalition to approve Spain's first budget in years.

Gabriel Rufian, ERC's bench leader in parliament, told reporters his party offered its support in exchange for more financial autonomy for Catalonia and more support for the poor. The preliminary deal is yet to be approved by party affiliates, he said.

The Socialists and their hard-left allies Unidas Podemos have 150 seats in the 350-seat lower house, short of the 176 votes needed to approve legislation. ERC's 12 votes practically guarantee the passage of the budget bill that includes a post-pandemic recovery plan.

Basque nationalist party PNV, with six seats in parliament, has already said it would support the budget bill.

Political instability has prevented previous governments from passing a full-year budget since 2016. The last spending plan approved by parliament in mid-2018 only applied to the second half of that year.