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Spain will remain in lockdown until at least June 7th after the Congress of Deputies backed a Government proposal for a fifth extension to the State of Alarm which began back in mid-March to face the coronavirus epidemic that swept across the nation. The Government said that it has been essential to continue limiting freedom of movement to prevent the spread of a virus which, although is in decline across the country, could surge again if proper measures were not followed. However, many opposition parties accused the Government of wasting time, making too many mistakes and abandoning Spaniards once again.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez secured enough votes (177) thanks to support from Ciudadanos, the Basque National Party (PNV) and Más País as well as a number of smaller parties. Voting against (162) were the Popular Party (PP), Vox, Catalan Republic Left (ERC), Together for Catalonia, Compromis, Foro Asturias and CUP whilst there were 11 deputies abstaining.

The debate lasted some hours with Sánchez arguing that the State of Alarm has been an essential tool to ensure that the quarantine measures which have contributed to the decrease of COVID-19 related infections and deaths are maintained. He said: "The state of alarm and the de-escalation are working. The state of alarm will not last one day longer than necessary. Nobody has the right to throw away what we have all achieved together".  He added that there were no legal alternative that allows the restriction of the fundamental right of Article 19 of the Spanish Constitution, which refers to the freedom of movement of its citizens.

Pablo Casado, leader of the main opposition party Partido Popular (PP), called out the Prime Minister for wasting time and overstepping his powers, accusing him of abandoning his citizens. "You are incapable of protecting Spaniards beyond keeping them in this drastic reclusion. You have overstepped all boundaries. The State is not you, even if your propaganda machine makes you out to be the Sun King. You are simply the government leader with the slimmest support in all of the democratic history of Spain." Vox leader Santiago Abascal added that: "Nobody can stop the Spain of the balconies and the pots and pans". The ERC withdrew its support in reaction to the Government negotiations with Ciudadanos, a party which has strongly opposed the independence of Catalonia.

Sánchez won the support from the Ciudadanos by reducing the length of the extension to two weeks instead of the one month that had been initially proposed. Spokesman Edmundo Bal said that, although the Government had made many mistakes and abused the State of Alarm, "We have to vote responsibly. We cannot take a step back now."

So, for the moment, Spain remains in lockdown until Sunday 7th June. Before then it is likely that the Government will ask the Congress of Deputies to support one final extension to the end of June when most of the country will be reaching the end of the four-phase de-escalation plan.

Source: Various sources.
Date: Thursday 21st May 2020





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