‘Nationalist parties made it clear that the Spanish government cannot necessarily depend on their support should a fourth extension to the state of alarm be sought.’
As expected, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez secured the support he needed in the Congress of Deputies to extend the state of alarm until the end of May 9th, after a vote in Spain’s lower house of parliament.
The debate, which lasted 11 hours yesterday, saw Sánchez defend his coalition government’s handling of the crisis, in the face of fierce criticism from opposition parties.
Sánchez began the debate by warning that the de-escalation of coronavirus confinement, would be “slow and gradual,” in order to ensure everyones safety, but said that he couldn’t rule out that there would be backward steps and reversals depending on the situation in Spain.
“The general confinement will not be lifted until we are ready,” the prime minister said. “The rules will vary,” he added, based on the outlook in the second half of May, so that life can continue with a “new normality.”
The prime minister also repeated his calls for opposition parties to come together and form a wide-ranging pact to work towards economic reconstruction together once the crisis has passed.
He said that if such a deal was reached, the government would not claim the achievements as its own victory, because “The success will be collective.”
Talks to seal this pact will take place in a permanent commission in Congress, following the request by Pablo Casado, the leader of the main opposition, Popular Party (PP), who has so far ruled out a kind of new “Moncloa Pacts,” which was a cross-party deal agreed in 1977 that produced a national socioeconomic recovery program and ensured Spain’s transition to democracy.
Sánchez explained in Congress that, for now, the conversations about the “reconstruction” of the country still don’t have a start date, but that they could coincide with the next period of the state of alarm: from April 26th to May 9th.
Meanwhile, Casado announced that his party would vote in favor of the extension to the state of alarm, but made clear his belief that everything the government has done so far during the coronavirus crisis has been done badly. “This is not a war, it’s a catastrophe,” he said, denouncing the fact that the government has not honored the victims of the coronavirus.
Casado reiterated his earlier criticism of the government’s ignorance of the total number of victims, and for its poor management. “There has not been caution, but rather incompetence,” he charged. “You have not apologized for your bad management when many of these deaths could have been prevented just by implementing the state of alarm a week earlier,” he said.
Sánchez also addressed the U-turn the government made on Tuesday, when it first announced that children would just be able to leave the house, after nearly six weeks of confinement, to accompany their parents on shopping trips, only to later agree that youngsters would be able to go out for short walks. “We were guilty of being too cautious,” he said. “We don’t want to move back a single step. And this is a government that listens.”
ERC ABSTAIN FROM VOTING:
The spokesperson for the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Gabriel Rufián, announced that his party would abstain in the vote, adding that the group did not trust in “the perverse balance being sought between health and the economy.”
Rufián criticized the fact that currently in Spain “you cannot go to a funeral but you can go to work on the Metro; that an adult can go to buy tobacco and a child can’t go out to play; that you can buy hamburgers via a delivery company, but not bury your parents.”
The ERC and other nationalist parties made it clear during the debate, that the Spanish government cannot necessarily depend on their support should a fourth extension to the state of alarm be sought.
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