Spain’s Parliament Backs State of Emergency Extension to April 25

Rodrigo Orihuela and Jeannette Neumann

(Bloomberg) -- Spanish lawmakers approved Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s plan to extend a state of emergency for two weeks in the country with the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll.

The request to prolong the state of emergency for a second time, through April 25, was backed Thursday by the conservative People’s Party, the main rival to Sanchez’s governing Socialists, giving it enough support to pass.

In a speech to an almost empty parliament chamber in Madrid, the head of the PP lambasted Sanchez for his handling of the crisis, saying Spain has the most per-capita deaths from the coronavirus worldwide.

“You have no moral authority to request loyalty,” PP leader Pablo Casado said. The party supported the extension due to a sense of obligation to the state, he said.

Casado’s comments, together with those of speakers from other parties, emphasized the political pressure mounting on the prime minister. Two polls this week signaled that his government’s approval rating has declined steadily since it declared the state of emergency on March 14.

The outbreak has led to a near-collapse of the health system and the administration turned to the armed forces to set up 16 makeshift hospitals. The government has also been criticized for a crisis in nursing homes, where thousands have died with little medical attention.

On Wednesday, the PP government of the Madrid region said that more than 3,000 people who died in nursing homes since the start of the pandemic had coronavirus symptoms. However, they were not tested for the disease and therefore haven’t been counted as victims of the outbreak.

Earlier Thursday, the Health Ministry reported fewer new coronavirus deaths and confirmed cases. There were 5,756 new infections, pushing the total above 150,000, and the death toll rose by 683 to 15,238.

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