Premier Andrei Lukanov Friday defeated a no-confidence motion pressed by political opponents seeking to oust his socialist government.

The opposition won 159 votes for the motion in a secret ballot in the 400-seat Grand National Assembly, but 201 deputies voted with Lukanov.The vote came a day after lawmakers approved Lukanov's austerity budget in a vote boycotted by the opposition. Lukanov had threatened to resign if the budget failed.

The Socialists, the former Communists, won June elections, have 210 seats in Parliament.

Prior to the vote, Lukanov defended himself against charges by the opposition that his government was ineffective in implementing reforms.

There have been growing demands for Lukanov's resignation. On Thursday, about 50,000 people demonstrated outside the Parliament building.

Alexander Yordanov of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces called Thursday for a new government, and said his group was prepared to take over if necessary.

The inability of the government to improve the rapidly deteriorating economic situation and supplies of scarce foodstuffs and consumer goods has fired anger among the country's frustrated citizens.