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Marta Vilalta, spokesperson for the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party, has announced this Monday that her party will abstain in the Spanish Congress's key vote to extend the period of the state of alarm, which will take place on Wednesday, unless a total lockdown of the population is considered. With this announcement, the pro-independence ERC thus backs the argument of the Catalan government, which for days has called for a tightening of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

ERC demands that only essential service workers and those whose work guarantees the food supply chain be allowed to leave home, and warns that "if this proposal is not accepted, ERC will propose an abstention." 

Vilalta also criticized the Spanish government and accused it of "taking advantage of the situation to re-centralize and take over decision-making power" from governments like that of Catalonia, instead of working to "alleviate and fight coronavirus".

However, she affirmed that without a response to the Catalan government's demand for total lockdown, the fight against the pandemic is not "resolute" and is an "abuse" of the state of alarm mechanism.

In addition, Vilalta also asserted that ERC will contact the other pro-independence groups in the Spanish parliament - Catalan parties JxCat, CUP; the Basque party Bildu; and Galicia's BNG - to establish a unitary position on this issue.

Under the Spanish Constitution, a state of alarm can be declared by the government for 15 days in response to a public health emergency like the present one, but any extension requires approval from the lower house of the Spanish parliament, the Congress. 

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