State of alarm in Spain extended to May 23
Fourth extension of emergency measures passed after deal struck with Ciudadanos and Basque National Party
The Spanish government has passed the fourth extension of the state of alarm in congress today, meaning the emergency measures in place due to the coronavirus crisis will now last at least until May 23.
The new date means the exceptional circumstances will be in place for over two months since the state of alarm was first announced on March 14.
The Spanish executive had some difficulty in passing the fourth extension after Catalan pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana announced they would vote no, meaning Pedro Sánchez had to find support from Ciudadanos and the Basque National Party (EAJ-PNV).
Only on Wednesday morning did the Basque Nationalist Party confirm their support in exchange for obliging Madrid to agree on the easing of lockdown measures with regional governments, with Spanish president Pedro Sánchez claiming they would have "a key role in the de-escalation."
This came only a few hours after unionist Ciudadanos also confirmed their support – in exchange, the Spanish government agreed to report weekly to the party led by Inés Arrimadas.
Yet, this move by Ciudadanos prompted two of its senior members to leave the party: the former MPs in congress Carina Mejías and Juan Carlos Girauta.
The leading opposition party in the Spanish congress, the People’s Party, only revealed on Wednesday morning that they would abstain rather than vote against the extension, but by that stage, their abstention wasn't needed in order for the motion to pass.
For the first time in the health crisis, all three Catalan pro-independence parties (ERC, JxCat, and CUP) voted vote no to the extension after much criticism of the decision to relax confinement according to provinces rather than health regions.
Gabriel Rufián, Esquerra Republicana's spokesperson in Congress, argued an extension was not necessary: "There is ultimately an alternative to recentralization, to militarization, and to the regression of civil rights seen during the crisis."
Meanwhile, Laura Borràs of Junts per Catalunya accused Sánchez of not listening to other proposals and called on him to trust "in the benefits of a truly decentralized state."