THE approval of the six month state of alarm came as a bit of a bombshell yesterday. Everyone I had spoken to over the past few days thought that the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, had little chance of getting it over the line with the opposition Partido Popular preferring two months and then a review of the situation.

What is more, what is going to happen over the next six months is anyone’s guess because Sánchez has decided to take a “hands off” approach to managing the state of alarm. Unlike during the first wave, he wants regional leaders to make the hard choices.

The PM says the new state of alarm will give legal certainty to regional governments when adopting tougher measures restricting basic freedoms. But unlike during the first wave in the spring, the Sánchez wants central government to take a less hands-on approach.

Rather than grabbing devolved health powers, his government will instead act to coordinate the response, handing tough lockdown decisions to regional leaders.

Ahead of what could be a very difficult winter, Sánchez appears to be taking steps to insulate himself from mounting political heat.

But, with his poll ratings falling while the main opposition parties gain support, Sánchez could be taking a huge risk, not only for his own political future, but for the welfare of the whole country.