Sánchez seeks opposition support for crisis measures

Spanish President Pedro Sánchez in presidential office in La Moncloa palace, 29th March. Photo: Moncloa via El País
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A beleaguered Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, under pressure to show results from efforts to stem the further spread of COVID-19 and under growing attack by conservative opposition and separatist parties in Congress, is preparing to lobby the leadership of all parties over the weekend to ease political tensions and garner support for his government’s coronavirus initiatives.

Sources within the government quoted in Spanish news media reports said that Sánchez will reach out to party leaders in an effort to lower the current conflictive tenor of debate over the coronavirus crisis before next week, when it is likely he will need the support of his political opponents to further extend the state of alarm decree.

The move comes as Sánchez faces growing criticism of his government’s handling of the crisis, and not just from political opponents. Results of a public opinion poll released Thursday show that seven of every 10 Spaniards (69.5 percent) believe that faced with the expansion of coronavirus the government was remiss in the first week of March in allowing the celebration of sporting events, political rallies and the 8M rallies and marches on International Women’s Day.

According to the poll conducted by the DYM organization for the newspaper 20minutos, even among supporters of Sánchez’s own Socialist party, 47.1 percent believe the government should not have allowed the public events to take place because of their possible contribution to the spread of the contagion.

Sánchez needs the support of opposition parties in Congress because all extensions to the government’s initial two-week “state of alarm” decree are subject to congressional debate and approval by a majority vote in Congress. Spanish news media reports say Sánchez wants to avoid the next debate turning into an all-out melee over his government’s approach to dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

► News Sources: El País, La Vanguardia and Europa Press …

Of particular concern is the increasingly combative attitude of conservative Partido Popular leader Pablo Casado, who has unloaded harsh criticisms at the Sánchez government over the past week, complaining that the president has not kept him or other party leaders informed of the rationale for or extent of the measures he is deploying to combat coronavirus epidemic in Spain.

Over the past two days, Sánchez has sent out his two top Socialist party lieutenants to test the waters on further extension of the state of alarm and to float the idea of an all-party agreement on how to move forward and resuscitate Spain’s stalled economy after the emergency phase of the coronavirus crisis lifts.

The spokeswoman for the Socialist parliamentary group in Congress, Adriana Lastra, has been lobbying the Catalan separatist Esquerra Republicana (ERC) over the past several days, as well as smaller parties, including the Canary Coalition (CC), Nueva Canarias (NC) and Teruel Exists! in an effort to shore up their continued support for the government measures.

And on Thursday, Transport Minister and Secretary of Organization for the Socialists, José Luis Ábalos, publicly aired the notion of coming to a cross-party agreement along the lines of the so-called Pactos de la Moncloa, the all-party economic and political agreements to address inflation and unemployment during the Spain’s transition to democracy in the late 1970s.

► Click to read more news about Spain’s Coronavirus crisis …

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