İrem UZUN -TDO- The Spanish government on Wednesday secured parliament's backing for a final extension to the state of emergency imposed to tackle the coronavirus epidemic and which will now last until June 21. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s proposal was narrowly approved in the 350-seat lower house, garnering 177 votes in favour despite opposition from the conservative People's Party and the far-right Vox.
Sanchez said on Sunday his coalition government will ask lawmakers to ratify a final extension of the country’s state of emergency until June 21. “It's been three months that seemed never-ending. Today, with caution, we can say that the worst is over. Today we need a final, definitive extension of the state of emergency, which will be lighter,” Sanchez said during a press conference on Sunday afternoon.
Spain had imposed the state of alarm on March 15 to control the spread of the coronavirus. "I am proud to preside the government of a country that has shown discipline, solidarity and responsibility. Since March 11, when the global pandemic was declared, the government has had no other goal than to save lives," Sanchez said, according to Spanish best-selling newspaper El Pais.
In mid-May, Sánchez had attempted to prolong the state of alert for one month – until the end of June – but he has since been forced to scale down his aim to two weeks, to obtain the support of a liberal party in parliament. The minority government Sánchez heads will be able to count on the absence of a pro-independence Catalan party and the support of the country’s Basque nationalists, parties with which the socialists concluded agreements on Saturday.
Spain is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, with over 27,000 deaths. In the past few weeks, it began its phased deconfinement, which should end in late June or, at the latest, in early July, depending on the regions.