surinenglish

Protests grow in parliament and on the street over government’s pandemic handling

A protest against the governemnt in Malaga's Calle Larios on Thursday evening.
A protest against the governemnt in Malaga's Calle Larios on Thursday evening. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • The state of alarm has been extended for another fortnight but more opposition parties have withdrawn their support for it

PM Pedro Sánchez failed to get majority support to extend the state of alarm for at least a further month this week. Negotiations with other parties ahead of Wednesday’s debate in Congreso didn’t secure him enough MPs’ votes. In the end, it was another two-week extension, until 7 June, that was presented to parliament for approval instead.

The prime minister said in the debate, as in previous ones, that the state of alarm is needed to keep restrictions of movement during the phased end of lockdown. However opposition parties believe it could be used as a cover for avoiding parliamentary scrutiny of other policies and they say other, less draconian, legislation would be just as effective.

A woman hits a saucepan in protest in the Madrid district of Salamanca.

A woman hits a saucepan in protest in the Madrid district of Salamanca. / EP

This time the conservative PP voted against, as did Catalan republicans ERC. It was only when centre-right Ciudadanos and the Basque PNVinsisted on just two weeks to gain their support that the extension went ahead.

Meanwhile, street protests have grown over the Socialist PSOE and Unidas Podemos coalition’s handling of the crisis, amid fears over the economic outlook.

Flags, pots and pans

The neighbourhood protests began in central Madrid. The capital, along with Barcelona and much of the Castilla y León region, is still in the more restrictive Phase Zero. Madrid’s regional leaders are working on legal action against the government, claiming holding their area back has been politically motivated.

The first spontaneous protests were on street corners in Madrid’s middle-class district of Salamanca last week. This prompted commentators on the left to accuse the conservative opposition of fuelling the unrest.

Over the last week, the nightly action has spread to street corners in other parts of the country, starting at 8pm, until now the time to applaud healthcare workers.

Protesting local residents have also gathered outside the Socialist party head office and the homes of some government members.

Residents took to the streets in Malaga and Marbella, among other places, on Thursday.

In the Madrid village of Galapagar, several Guardia Civil vehicles have been guarding the gates to the villa of Unidas Podemos leaders Pablo Iglesias and Irene Montero. Right-wing commentators have pointed out the irony, as Iglesias has criticised excessive Guardia Civil protection of politicians in the past.