AUSTERITY

Popular Party pushes through social cutbacks in two hours

Government gets no backing from other groupings on 10-billion-euro healthcare and education slash

The largest cutbacks to social services since Spain returned to democracy were pushed through Congress in just two hours on Thursday. The Popular Party government got no support from other groupings but used its absolute majority to have the decrees passed, while also ensuring that there will be no option to include amendments to its plans to slash more than 10 billion euros from healthcare and education spending.

The government is committed to bringing down the budget deficit from 8.5 percent of GDP last year to a Brussels-approved 5.8 percent in 2012. The health cuts will see co-payment introduced and oblige seniors to pay for prescription drugs for the first time.

“We don’t want to do it but there is no other way to get out of this situation,” said Education Minister José Ignacio Wert. “It’s an exceptional response to exceptional circumstances.”

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