Hours before Spain's Congress is due to vote on the fourth extension of the state of alarm declared in the country under the coronavirus crisis, and with the parliamentary numbers very tight, prime minister Pedro Sánchez and Ciudadanos (Cs) leader Inés Arrimadas have reached an understanding. According to Spanish government sources, the Sánchez executive has sealed an agreement with Cs that will allow the process of easing lockdown to be maintained in the current terms, that is, under the sole command of the central government. In return for its votes, Ciudadanos, the six largest party in the Spanish parliament, has also managed to extend the economic and social measures beyond the state of alarm. The terms resemble those of a new ally of the coalition government, and include weekly meetings to consider progress.
Now all that remains is for the Basque nationalists, the PNV, which is the other essential actor, to set its position. If it votes against, and so does the largest opposition party, the PP, the state of alarm would be ended. The Basque party has called for a "pact mechanism" with the country's autonomous communities to manage the deconfinement.
According to the two parties to this Tuesday's accord, "they have reached an agreement under which the two parts express the desirability of prolonging the current state of alarm to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, as well as maintaining measures to protect Spaniards in the health, economic and social fields beyond the state of alarm."
The joint statement speaks of the need to extend the state of alarm "only for the time strictly necessary." In this regard, they assure that "analysis will be made of the measures necessary to continue protecting Spaniards in the health, economic and social fields when the application [of the state of alarm] concludes". The two pledge to "maintain dialogue for the adaptation of ERTOs and aid to SMEs and the self-employed so that these social protection measures as well as others can be adapted to needs that arise beyond the state of alarm."
According to the agreement between Sánchez and Arrimadas, "the government will maintain weekly contacts with Ciudadanos to report on the health crisis, as well as to dialogue and, where appropriate, agree on measures for the implementation of the deconfinement plan."