Government looks to renew state of alarm for another month

Sánchez in Congreso this week.
Sánchez in Congreso this week. / EFE
  • Pedro Sánchez needs support of MPs to secure a new extension which is intended to be the last and would return part of the control to regional authorities

On Sunday, 24 May, the latest extension to Spain's state of alarm expires and the government is looking at ways to get enough MPs' support to renew it.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Saturday that he would ask Congreso to back a new period which "is aimed at being the last" and would last "more or less a month" rather than the usual two weeks' extension.

The exact length, he said, would depend on epidemiological and health criteria, not political motives.

In this new extension Sánchez said that it would only be the Health ministry that maintains its authority over the Spain's autonomous regions, and control over Interior, Transport and Defence would be returned to the regional governments.

Growing opposition

Sánchez, however, has recently seen the parliamentary majority for the emergency measure under the state of alarm fall away and the next renewal is not guaranteed. Oppostion parties on the right still say that the state of alarm should be replaced with less strict legislation and the main, conservative PP party promised recently to vote against him next time round.

On Thursday this week, centre-right Ciudadanos and left-wing Compromis told the government that their votes couldn't be relied on for the extension either. Ciudadanos (Cs) said that the PM hadn't mentioned wanting to extend the state of alarm to a month when he spoke with their leader, Inés Arrimadas, earlier in the week.

Catalan nationalists ERC have also said they will vote against an extension unless they can win concessions from the government.

Madrid needs the votes of ERC or Cs to succeed and is looking for a way of softening the terms of the state of alarm to gain their support. It says it needs the state of alarm to stay in place in some form to guarantee the restrictions on movement between provinces until the end of June.