Spanish President Pedro Sánchez won approval from Congress in the early morning hours of Thursday for a 15-day extension of the country’s “state of alarm” lockdown decreed in mid-March, pushing out the date by which Spaniards must remain confined at home for all but necessary travel and errands until the 11th of April.
In a grueling 11-hour session that lasted until 2 a.m. on Thursday, Sánchez won broad support for his government’s extension of the lockdown, but suffered harsh criticism across the board for the government’s handling of the crisis, particularly from conservative lawmakers who charge the government with being too slow to respond to the crisis.
Sánchez defended his government’s response, saying that “there has not been a single day, or a single hour, in which this government has refrained from acting” to confront the spread of coronavirus across Spain.
During the session, which began at 3 pm on Wednesday, five separate pieces of legislation were debated and then approved by lawmarkers, including emergency economic measures previously announced by the government to help businesses, unemployed workers and the most vulnerable sectors of society cope with the hardships being caused by the economic slowdown due to the crisis.
Despite the criticism of Sánchez’s handling of the crisis, all parties represented in Congress voted along with Sánchez own Socialist party and their partners in the coalition government, Unidas Podemos, to approve the two week extension to the state of alarm. More than 300 legislators voted electronically from home in order to avoid possible contagion by attending the parliamentary session in person.
The only dissent among congressional delegations came in the form of abstentions from 28 deputies belonging to the separatist ERC, JxCAT and CUP parties from Catalonia, and the Basque separatist party, EH Bildu, whohave called on the government to go further in imposing restrictions and shut down all non-essential economic activity throughout the country.
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