If Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez fails to secure enough opposition party votes to extend the lockdown extension for a fourth time, the government could lose its ability to restrict citizen’s movements to contain Covid-19, according to the country’s legal experts.
THE country’s State of Alarm, which started on March 14, has already been extended three times, and Sánchez is struggling to garner opposition support for a fourth extension for another two weeks from May 10 (as reported). If Sánchez fails to secure approval on Wednesday, legal experts question the government’s ability to continue to restrict citizen’s movements.
According to Gerardo Pérez, Professor of Constitutional Law at La Laguna University, the government would undoubtedly “lose the ability to restrict the movement of citizens because it is linked to a situation of exceptionality.” They would also “lose the ability to fine those who break the lockdown rules.” According to Pérez, the government could then just be limited to confining “people who are sick,” and not the whole population.
In short, if an extension is not secured, it means the emergency measures to combat the crisis will expire between on May 9, as will the ability to restrict the population’s movements. Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos highlighted that not supporting the extension is like “sentencing us to chaos” because there will be “no other legal framework to establish order.”
However, the Prime Minister cannot extend the State of Alarm without Congress approval, and it’s still not clear whether Sánchez will have enough votes tomorrow (Wednesday) to secure the approval for another extension. But Sánchez has not thrown in the towel just yet, as he continues to pressure PNV and Ciudadanos Party, as well as Partido Popular (PP) for their support, despite their repeated threats to withdraw support this time round. He stressed to all the opposition parties today that the State of Alarm extension “is the only constitutional instrument that we have to fight against Covid-19 to guarantee confinement and limit movement. There is no alternative.”
Whether Sánchez will succeed to get enough votes tomorrow to extend the State of Alarm given the mounting opposition to another extension, remains to be seen.