The Spanish parliament on Wednesday preliminarily passed a strict austerity budget for 2013, a day after thousands of Spaniards protested the belt-tightening cuts they say are punishing the poor. The budget was approved by 179 votes against 148 in the parliament where Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy\'s People\'s Party enjoyed an absolute majority. Spanish opposition parties had criticized the budget, which slashed government ministries by 8.9 percent, as not realistic and that it could deepen the country\'s recession and poverty. The budget for the health sector will also be cut by 22.6 percent, the culture budget by 19.6 percent, investments in infrastructure 15 percent and development aid 23 percent. The budget will have to be passed by parliamentary commissions and the senate before it is officially approved.