As surprising as it may seem, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez has a tough task ahead to win approval for the six-month state of alarm he announced last Sunday. His calls for responsibility have, for now, gone unanswered as most of the parties have not taken the bait he threw them or granted the blank cheque he asked of them. A state of alarm lasting six months in one fell swoop is far beyond what is required in a situation like the current one when the counterbalances between the government and the Congress of Deputies must continue to function even if the coronavirus pandemic has wrought havoc. Catalan parties ERC and JxCat regard it as an excessive length of time, as does Ciudadanos, and the main opposition Popular Party has spoken of eight weeks at the most. We will see how the resistance holds out in all of these cases, but there is much more at stake than it may seem and the Spanish PM has done nothing to deserve a gesture of such political confidence from his occasional partners or from the opposition.
Because, in short, the problems of political stability that the Spanish government has suffered since the beginning of the legislature must not be borne by the people on their backs. It is a headache to have to undertake negotiations every fortnight, which is what was done last spring. For the Spanish executive, it became a true ordeal. But not for that reason does it have to be accepted that Sánchez will take the middle course every time he has a problem and doesn’t know how to resolve it. He already tried a week ago with the proposal for the renewal of Spain's General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) announced by the Socialists and Podemos, which consisted of reducing the required Congressional majorities of two-thirds to absolute majorities, and the excuse for all this being the blockage tactics which the Popular Party has long practiced. Even the European Commission gave him a wake-up call for changing the rules of the game in the middle of the match and Sánchez took advantage of Vox's no-confidence motion to withdraw the proposal discreetly. Now he has once again sat down with the PP and with a Pablo Casado who has regained the strut of the leader of the opposition and continues to receive congratulations from the left for his distancing, temporary or not, from Vox.
The state of alarm, it was said in March, is an exceptional instrument that forces the government to use it with caution and with the greatest possible provisionality. Deputy PM Carmen Calvo said so at the time and she promised to amend the relevant legislation so that the state of alarm would not have to be employed. Nothing has been done about that and once again everyone has been sucked in. Just like the dialogue table between the Spanish and Catalan governments that no one talks about anymore because that was Sánchez's goal when he signed the document: to get the necessary votes for the investiture and wrap it up there and then. So much so that his public prosecutors, the ones he said in the election campaign were following his orders, were relentless with president Quim Torra and didn't stop until they disqualified him from office.
In short: only give Sánchez your votes for free when absolutely necessary and for the shortest possible time. Doing anything else will once again be a mistake.