Spanish govt wins vote to extend State of Alarm

Madrid, May 21 (IANS) The Spanish government has won a key parliamentary vote in order to extend the State of Alarm for a fifth time in the country until June 7 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the government carried the motion with 177 votes in favour, 162 votes against and 11 abstentions, reports Xinhua news agency.

The fifth extension of the State of Alarm, which was first introduced on March 15, was approved with the votes of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialist Party (PSOE), its coalition partners, Unidas Podemos, the center-right Ciudadanos, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), Mas Pais and some regionalist parties.

The right-wing People's Party voted against extending the State of Alarm, along with the Vox party and the Catalan parties Junts per Cat, CUP and Ezquerra Republicana in the tight vote.

Sanchez stressed the importance of maintaining the constitutional apparatus which allows the government to control the free movement of people as the country continues to relax restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“The State of Alarm has helped all of the country and all of the Communities — the most infected, such as Madrid, where new infections have fallen; and the least infected — because the virus didn't get there,” he said.

Sanchez noted that the measure was “the only possible way to combat the virus efficiently,” and promised it would “not last one day longer than necessary. Nobody has the right to throw away what we have all achieved together”, he added.

Opposition groups argued that the measure represents an attack on individual liberty and that Sanchez has other legal measures at his disposal during the scale-down of restrictions.

Wednesday saw the number of new deaths of COVID-19 in Spain increase by 95, to a total of 27,888, while the cases stood at 232,555.

A State of Alarm is the first of three emergency levels a Spanish government can apply under exceptional circumstances, with the others being ‘State of Exception' and ‘Martial Law'.

It grants the government special powers to limit the movement of citizens, to control the means of production and use private assets if needed and also to use the military to carry out essential logistical and supply jobs.



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