Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sánchez

Pedro Sánchez at a recent PSOE event.

25-04-2021Efe (Chema Moya)

Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is resisting pressure from regional governments and political parties to extend the state of alarm or approve different measures that will serve as a legal umbrella for possible restrictions.

The Sánchez administration is insisting that its stance on the state of alarm will not be influenced by the regional election in Madrid on May 4. Opposition parties suspect that there might be a change once the election is held. The government's view is that it would only change its mind if there were a sudden worsening of the health data. This is not expected, Sánchez having said last week that everything points to the infection curve having been contained. He added that the rate of vaccination will mean that a target of 70% of the people being immunised by August is achievable.

There are regional governments who believe that a lifting of the state of alarm will be "reckless". The Basque Country's president, Aitor Esteban, is demanding an extension. The main opposition party, the Partido Popular, is pressing for approval of what its leader, Pablo Casado, describes as a "legal Plan B". This would involve a reform of the 1986 public health act to make it feasible to impose restrictions on mobility without requiring the state of alarm.

The PP advocated this last November. Its proposal was rejected by Congress, but parties which support the PSOE-Podemos government are now coming round to the idea.

Meanwhile, ministers such as Carolina Darias (health) and María Jesús Montero (finance, and also the government spokesperson) have been stressing that the regions already have the legal means to introduce restrictions. The appropriate forum for what comes after the state of alarm, these ministers and the prime minister say, is the Inter-Territorial Council for the National Health System. This is not how the PP see it. There should be a conference of regional presidents to debate the situation before the state of alarm ends.

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