surinenglish

Pedro Sánchez defends his exit plan to MPs amid a lack of consensus

Sánchez talks to a near-empty chamber at Prime Minister's Questions.
Sánchez talks to a near-empty chamber at Prime Minister's Questions. / EP
  • The devolved regional governments want more say over the ending of restrictions and nationalist parties may not continue to support the PM

In the aftermath of its announcement of a four-phased plan to end lockdown, the government was yet to build consensus this week with opposition parties and the devolved regional governments across Spain.

At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Pedro Sánchez accepted responsibility for any central government errors during thecrisis. However he also asked any regional governments' health services run by opposition parties to engage in some self-criticism.

The PM defended an end to lockdown, saying the country had to be "started up again", however opposition leader Pablo Casado, of the Partido Popular (PP), said this wouldn't be safe without mass testing. Casado asked Sánchez whether Spain would need a bailout. The PM didn't reply, but said that Spain was facing "a very serious" economic crisis.

Earlier this week, the Congreso approved the setting up of a cross-party commission to lead the country out of the crisis but both Sánchez's PSOE party and the PP have still failed to agree on what format it should take. Sánchez accused Casado of being "intransigent" despite the parliamentary commission being the PP's idea.

Sánchez also told MPs that his minimum universal salary plan would be ready by the end of May under a means-tested scheme.

There have been increased calls from regional governments, including those run by nationalist parties that support Sánchez's coalition in Madrid, to return devolved powers suspended during the crisis.

No guarantee of support

Gabriel Rufián of the Catalan Republican ERC said in Congreso on Monday that the regional governments needed to make the decisions on easing lockdown as well. "If they had called us we would have said that there is no sense in going to cut your hair and not being able to go and see your mother," Rufián told MPs. He also warned, as did the PP, that his party might not support an extension to the state of alarm, which expires on 9 May.

The 17 regional governments have been pressurising the prime minister with different ideas of how to end lockdown.

The Andalusian regional parliament in Seville has done better than national MPs and reached a broad parliamentary consensus across all parties on the need to find a common approach regionally.