An International Women’s Day of Sorts, Puigdemont Loses Immunity, Snap Election in Madrid and the Latest About the Coronavirus Pandemic in Spain

Puigdemont loses immunity, Snap Election in Madrid, the International Women's Day in Madrid and the Latest about the Coronavirus Pandemic in Madrid
Puigdemont loses immunity, Snap Election in Madrid, the International Women's Day in Madrid and the Latest about the Coronavirus Pandemic in Madrid

Dear Expat,

What an eventful week to launch this newsletter. I will begin with Monday’s celebration of International Women’s Day and the rise of anti-feminist movements in Spain. On Tuesday, all the attention went to the European Parliament and the lifting of immunity of three Catalan separatist politicians involved in the unauthorised referendum of independence of 2017, now serving as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). On Wednesday, we witnessed what could safely be called a political earthquake, triggered by a motion of no confidence in the regional government of Murcia, which led to the calling of a snap election in Madrid. And finally, I will update you on the latest about the coronavirus pandemic.

Dearexpat, is aimed at English-speaking readers who have been living in Spain for long enough to be interested in the country’s current affairs, with a focus on politics, the economy, society, and culture. In fact, anyone, anywhere with a keen interest in Spain might find it helpful. Since we are usually overwhelmed by an endless outpouring of news, this newsletter will be published on Fridays to provide readers with an overview of the most noteworthy events taking place during the week.

An 8M of Sorts

Spain celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday amid limitations imposed by the ongoing health crisis. Downsized marches, fun bike-rides, clapping from balconies, virtual performances and static demonstrations, among other ad-hoc formats, were held across Spain. In Madrid, a city that in 2018 saw the most highly attended feminist demonstration in the history of Spain in the context of a nationwide feminist strike, protests and gatherings had been banned on Friday last week by Madrid’s central government delegate, José María Franco, over public health concerns. Last year, the feminist movement was blamed for the spike in contagions of coronavirus just a few days before the declaration of the state of alarm.

Although the 60 feminist organizations that had submitted requests for controlled demonstrations and small-scale protests had taken all the necessary measures to avoid contagion, Franco took “the firm decision” to ban them, alleging that Madrid was still above the high-risk mark of 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

On Monday, Spain’s Constitutional Court rejected appeals by unions CCOO and UGT and women’s rights groups to hold street protests in Madrid, stating that public health was more important than the right to assembly.

But reasons to take to the streets abound. The social and economic crisis triggered by the pandemic has resulted in a wider salary gap. Using data from 2018, a report published by Spanish union UGT established the wage gap at 21,41%. Work-life balance has become even more difficult to achieve as women bear the brunt of caregiving tasks. The online community MalasMadres (Bad Mothers) carried out a survey that reveals that 20% of women have given up work to care for someone else. In Spain, the employment rate for women is 47,2% while men’s is 67,4%. According to the INE (National Institute of Statistics), 23,8% of working women in 2019 hold part-time job contracts, while only 7% of men are in the same situation.

 

The vandalizing of murals depicting women is a sign that an anti-feminist climate is gaining momentum in Spain, spurred on by the far-right

 

To add insult to injury, gender violence manifested itself on the very March 8. In the town of Massamagrell, in Valencia, a 50-year-old woman was critically stabbed by her ex-partner. Since 2013, when an official registry was established, 1.082 have been murdered by their partners or ex-partners. Also, a man sprayed pepper gas on a group of five women while they were peacefully demonstrating in Barcelona.

An anti-feminist climate seems to be gaining momentum, spurred on by the far right. Three feminist murals were vandalized in Spain, one in Valencia and two in Madrid. On Sunday, a mural in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) depicting Spanish historical female figures was defaced two days after its inauguration. A well-known feminist mural bearing the slogan “Your ability doesn’t depend on your gender” was vandalized in Ciudad Lineal, a neighbourhood in north-east Madrid. The faces of 15 pioneering women, including the civil rights activists Rosa Parks, the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Spanish rap singer Gata Cattana, and the Guatemalan human rights leader Rigoberta Menchú were covered with black spray paint. The authors, a group called Revolutio, left a note describing feminism as “one of the bêtes noires of our era» and defending «family, tradition and an alternative to the current system of values, led by feminism.»

This is the same mural the far-right Vox party wanted removed and replaced by another one showcasing Paralympic athletes, claiming it contained a “political message.” And this is the same party that called for 8M International Women’s Day in Spain to be changed to National Day for Covid Victims. “The 8M was allowed by the Government to participate in the great feminist demonstrations with the sole purpose of developing its ideological agenda over the health of the Spaniards,” said Vox spokesman Jorge Buxadé. On March 8, 2020, the party had held a highly attended indoors event in Madrid, after which many people tested positive to Covid-19.

On 8M the feminist movement was united in demanding solutions, but this year was also marked by divisions and heated confrontations over the so-called Trans Law. As part of a governing agreement between PSOE and Unidas Podemos, a draft bill was presented in February by the Equality Ministry, headed by Irene Montero from UP, causing friction with the PSOE, among other things because it guarantees gender self-determination.

The previous law, which dates back to 2007, requires a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and hormonal treatment to change the gender on the Spanish DNI identity card, a precondition criticized by the European Court of Human Rights. Under the new legislation, people over 16 years of age would be allowed to do so out of their own volition.

“I’m fundamentally worried by the idea that if gender can be chosen with no more than one’s will or desire, that could put at risk the identity criteria for 47 million Spaniards,” Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said last week, adding that it could introduce «ambitious and legally insecure concepts.» Some feminist organizations also oppose gender self-determination and think the distinction between sex and gender is essential. They also fear that choosing gender would eventually lead to “erasing” women from the public sphere, leading to bias in national statistics and creating more competition among women.

Get up to date with what is going on in Spain in just one go.
Sign up to Dearexpat,

Will Catalan Separatist Politicians Be Extradited to Spain and Tried on Charges of Sedition and Misuse of Public Funds?

On Tuesday, the EU parliament announced it had voted to waive the immunity of former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont (400 vs 248 and 45 abstentions). The same fate befell former Catalan lawmakers and Puigdemont aides Antoni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, with very similar results. The decision paves the way for the reactivation of an arrest warrant suspended in early 2020 when they became members of the European Parliament (MEPs). If successful, they will stand trial in Spain. 

As MEPs —Puigdemont and Comín since June 2019 and Ponsati since January 2020—they were shielded from prosecution. The Spanish judicial system could not extradite them for their roles in the unauthorized independence referendum celebrated in Catalonia in 2017, which led to a unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament.  

Puigdemont and Comín self-exiled in Belgium to avoid being arrested by the Spanish authorities in the wake of the breakaway bid, while Ponsati fled to Scotland.

Nine Catalan politicians and activists were convicted for sedition and misuse of funds and sentenced to up to 13 years in prison by the Spanish Supreme Court on 14 October 2019.  

“It’s a sad day for the European parliament. We have lost our immunity, but the European parliament has lost even more than that: as a result, it has also lost European democracy,” said Puigdemont after the news broke out, adding that this was “a clear case of political prosecution.” 

“We will not give up. The political conflict between Catalonia and Spain is no longer an internal affair. We have brought it to the heart of Europe to continue denouncing the repression and political persecution of the Spanish state,” tweeted Puigdemont’s party, Junts.   

“The problems of Catalonia will not be solved in Europe or by Europe. They have to be solved in Spain by bringing all Catalan forces around the table,” said the foreign minister, Arancha González Laya,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya, adding that parliament’s decision was a sign of “respect for the work of the Spanish justice system”. 

The unionist Citizens (Cs) party welcomed the outcome of the vote: “In a democracy, no politician is above the law. Despite the pressures of separatism, the European Parliament just lifted Puigdemont’s immunity. We will continue to highlight nationalism in Europe.” 

Puigdemont, Ponsatí and Comín will appeal against the decision on the grounds of technical irregularities in the Spanish judiciary’s request for the waiver. On the other hand, Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena will issue a European Arrest Warrant, the third one after two previous failed attempts. To secure the extradition of the three MEPs, Llarena requested a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on how the extradition order should be interpreted by EU Law. 

This comes two months after the Brussels Public Prosecutor Office rejected the request for extradition on former Catalan politician Lluís Puig, who served as a conseller in Puigdemont’s cabinet. The court alleged that the authority to request extradition laid not on the Spanish Supreme Court but a Catalan court, and that the presumption of innocence of the Catalan leader was not guaranteed. Llarena wants to know whether the Belgian courts “can question the authority” of the court that issues the order, in this case, the Spanish Supreme Court.

An Earthquake on Spanish Political Soil

The right-wing People’s Party is going through a difficult time. Former party’s treasurer Luis Bárcenas is testifying in court over the so-called Bárcenas Papers, off-the-book accounts reflecting payments to senior party officials that went on between 1990 and 2008. Bárcenas, who is currently serving a 29-year sentence in connection with the sweeping graft case known as Gürtel, said he would cooperate and mentioned former PP minister Mariano Rajoy among the beneficiaries of the undeclared bonuses. “I gave them an envelope containing the amount they were owed,” he told the court  on Monday, identifying the recipients as eight senior PP figures, among them Rajoy and Aznar. 

Pablo Casado, the young party’s leader, is scrambling to fend off the consequences of Bárcenas’ declarations by insisting the PP has come clean and has no ties whatsoever with any of the events involving the former members of the party’s Executive. “Starting today,” Casado said earlier this week, “the party’s Executive will not give any kind of explanation about past issues involving personal actions [those of Bárcenas] that are not beneficial or are detrimental to the party.”  

But on Wednesday a political storm was unleashed that threatened to upend Spain’s political landscape, posing yet another existential threat to the People’s Party and the centre-right Ciudadanos (Cs) parties. 

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the president of the regional government in Madrid, a coalition between PP and Cs, called a snap election on 4 May to avoid a no-confidence motion from the socialist PSOE and CS. Ayuso made the decision shortly after a motion of no confidence was launched against the PP in the southeast region of Murcia by PSOE and Cs. Fearing the same would happen to her in Madrid, she dissolved the regional assembly, stunning Madrid’s deputy premier Ignacio Aguado from Cs, who said Ayuso was being “absolutely irresponsible”, that she was “lying” and had “lost her mind”. Aguado and CS leader Inés Arrimadas had promised the party would support the PP in Madrid until the end of the legislature. But a few hours later, Ayuso sacked Aguado, along with all of the regional department chiefs from that party.

 

It remains unclear whether a snap election will take place in Madrid

 

“I have made this decision against my will. I cannot allow Madrid to lose its freedom,” said Díaz Ayuso in a brief press conference to announce the snap election. She was referring to the potential taking over by the PSOE, which she considers to be an “authoritarian” party. 

The breakup of the Murcia and the Madrid regional governments threatened the stability of other regional governments of Castilla y León and Andalucía, as well as the City Council of Madrid, formed by a coalition of the two parties. However, leaders of all three governments were quick to announce they would not follow suit. 

Despite the rush to call an early election, Díaz Ayuso might not be able to get her way. PSOE and the leftist Más Madrid registered two no-confidence motions against Díaz Ayuso in a bid to avoid the election. The Madrid regional assembly’s governing board accepted the motions because, for the announcement of new elections to be official, it has to appear on the regional gazette. 

The move will likely bring the PP and the far-right Vox party closer together, despite Pablo Casado’s claim that his party would stay clear of their extremist stance. CS on the other hand might be facing the beginning of their political irrelevance, unless they play their cards right in the new political landscape.

And Last But Not Least, An Update on the Coronavirus Incidence Rates and Restrictions

On Wednesday, Spain’s Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS) announced travel restrictions from March 26 to April 9 (Easter Week) and from March 17 to 21 (the San José long weekend.)

Perimetral lockdowns will be in place in all territories, except for the Canary and the Balearic Islands. In a bid to avoid nationals to travel to the islands, only regular residents returning home, people taking medical tests or exams, working or taking care of adults with disabilities are allowed to travel provided they test negative in a PCR. The archipelagos will be open for international tourism, with travellers subject to the restrictions put in place from country to country.

Madrid, a region that has refused to implement this and other measures including the closing of the hospitality sector over fears it would greatly damage the region’s economic fabric, rejected the agreement. “Madrid will not be closing its borders. We will take the measures that we believe to be appropriate,” said the regional health chief, Enrique Ruiz Escudero.  

Carolina Darías, Spain’s Health Minister, said the measures were mandatory and that it would take legal action should Madrid keep the region open.

Other measures include a nighttime curfew from 11 pm to 6 am a limit of four people in closed public spaces and six people in open spaces. Only members of the same household can meet in private spaces. 

If the vaccination drive goes according to plan, most of these restrictions will be lifted by the summer. Spain hopes to have vaccinated 70% of the adult population by the end of September. That means 66 million doses will be necessary to inoculate 33 million people, administered at a pace of 2.2 million per week. 

However, Darías said on Monday on the Cadena SER radio network that 4.8 million doses from Janssen are due to arrive in Spain in April. Adding this single-dose jab to the other three vaccines already available would speed up the rollout of the vaccine significantly. 

 

«We still have a long way to go before we reach the objective of 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants»

 

Spain has so far administered more than 4.6 million doses, which is 83.4% of those it has received. Care home residents and frontline healthcare workers have now received the two doses of the vaccine. The regional health systems, in charge of the vaccination process, are administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to essential workers under the age of 55 and the other vaccines to the 80-and-over population. In Catalonia, the regional health ministry is demanding the central government to allow the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 55 since studies on the protection offered by the vaccine were not conclusive for those only over the age of 65. However, on Thursday, Denmark, Iceland and Norway announced they had suspended the use of this vaccine as a precaution amid reports of blood clotting in some people who have received it.

Data released on Thursday by the Health Ministry shows the curve has flattened. The 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants is at 132.25. “The incidence indicators show that we are going in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go before we reach the objective of 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants,” said Health Minister Carolina Darias. 

Dear Expat,

What an eventful week to launch this newsletter. I will begin with Monday’s celebration of International Women’s Day and the rise of anti-feminist movements in Spain. On Tuesday, all the attention went to the European Parliament and the lifting of immunity of three Catalan separatist politicians involved in the unauthorised referendum of independence of 2017, now serving as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). On Wednesday, we witnessed what could safely be called a political earthquake, triggered by a motion of no confidence in the regional government of Murcia, which led to the calling of a snap election in Madrid. And finally, I will update you on the latest about the coronavirus pandemic.

An 8M of Sorts

Spain celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday amid limitations imposed by the ongoing health crisis. Downsized marches, fun bike-rides, clapping from balconies, virtual performances and static demonstrations, among other ad-hoc formats, were held across Spain. In Madrid, a city that in 2018 saw the most highly attended feminist demonstration in the history of Spain in the context of a nationwide feminist strike, protests and gatherings had been banned on Friday last week by Madrid’s central government delegate, José María Franco, over public health concerns. Last year, the feminist movement was blamed for the spike in contagions of coronavirus just a few days before the declaration of the state of alarm.

Although the 60 feminist organizations that had submitted requests for controlled demonstrations and small-scale protests had taken all the necessary measures to avoid contagion, Franco took “the firm decision” to ban them, alleging that Madrid was still above the high-risk mark of 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

On Monday, Spain’s Constitutional Court rejected appeals by unions CCOO and UGT and women’s rights groups to hold street protests in Madrid, stating that public health was more important than the right to assembly.

But reasons to take to the streets abound. The social and economic crisis triggered by the pandemic has resulted in a wider salary gap. Using data from 2018, a report published by Spanish union UGT established the wage gap at 21,41%. Work-life balance has become even more difficult to achieve as women bear the brunt of caregiving tasks. The online community MalasMadres (Bad Mothers) carried out a survey that reveals that 20% of women have given up work to care for someone else. In Spain, the employment rate for women is 47,2% while men’s is 67,4%. According to the INE (National Institute of Statistics), 23,8% of working women in 2019 hold part-time job contracts, while only 7% of men are in the same situation.

 

The vandalizing of murals depicting women is a sign that an anti-feminist climate is gaining momentum in Spain, spurred on by the far-right

 

To add insult to injury, gender violence manifested itself on the very March 8. In the town of Massamagrell, in Valencia, a 50-year-old woman was critically stabbed by her ex-partner. Since 2013, when an official registry was established, 1.082 have been murdered by their partners or ex-partners. Also, a man sprayed pepper gas on a group of five women while they were peacefully demonstrating in Barcelona.

An anti-feminist climate seems to be gaining momentum, spurred on by the far right. Three feminist murals were vandalized in Spain, one in Valencia and two in Madrid. On Sunday, a mural in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) depicting Spanish historical female figures was defaced two days after its inauguration. A well-known feminist mural bearing the slogan “Your ability doesn’t depend on your gender” was vandalized in Ciudad Lineal, a neighbourhood in north-east Madrid. The faces of 15 pioneering women, including the civil rights activists Rosa Parks, the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Spanish rap singer Gata Cattana, and the Guatemalan human rights leader Rigoberta Menchú were covered with black spray paint. The authors, a group called Revolutio, left a note describing feminism as “one of the bêtes noires of our era» and defending «family, tradition and an alternative to the current system of values, led by feminism.»

This is the same mural the far-right Vox party wanted removed and replaced by another one showcasing Paralympic athletes, claiming it contained a “political message.” And this is the same party that called for 8M International Women’s Day in Spain to be changed to National Day for Covid Victims. “The 8M was allowed by the Government to participate in the great feminist demonstrations with the sole purpose of developing its ideological agenda over the health of the Spaniards,” said Vox spokesman Jorge Buxadé. On March 8, 2020, the party had held a highly attended indoors event in Madrid, after which many people tested positive to Covid-19.

On 8M the feminist movement was united in demanding solutions, but this year was also marked by divisions and heated confrontations over the so-called Trans Law. As part of a governing agreement between PSOE and Unidas Podemos, a draft bill was presented in February by the Equality Ministry, headed by Irene Montero from UP, causing friction with the PSOE, among other things because it guarantees gender self-determination.

The previous law, which dates back to 2007, requires a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and hormonal treatment to change the gender on the Spanish DNI identity card, a precondition criticized by the European Court of Human Rights. Under the new legislation, people over 16 years of age would be allowed to do so out of their own volition.

“I’m fundamentally worried by the idea that if gender can be chosen with no more than one’s will or desire, that could put at risk the identity criteria for 47 million Spaniards,” Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said last week, adding that it could introduce «ambitious and legally insecure concepts.» Some feminist organizations also oppose gender self-determination and think the distinction between sex and gender is essential. They also fear that choosing gender would eventually lead to “erasing” women from the public sphere, leading to bias in national statistics and creating more competition among women.

Dearexpat, is aimed at English-speaking readers who have been living in Spain for long enough to be interested in the country’s current affairs, with a focus on politics, the economy, society, and culture. In fact, anyone, anywhere with a keen interest in Spain might find it helpful. Since we are usually overwhelmed by an endless outpouring of news, this newsletter will be published every Friday to provide readers with an overview of the most noteworthy events taking place during the previous week.

Get up to date with what is going on in Spain in just one go. Sign up to Dearexpat,

Dearexpat, is aimed at English-speaking readers who have been living in Spain for long enough to be interested in the country’s current affairs, with a focus on politics, the economy, society, and culture. In fact, anyone, anywhere with a keen interest in Spain might find it helpful. Since we are usually overwhelmed by an endless outpouring of news, this newsletter will be published every Friday to provide readers with an overview of the most noteworthy events taking place during the previous week.

Get up to date with what is going on in Spain in just one go. Sign up to Dearexpat,

Will Catalan Separatist Politicians Be Extradited to Spain and Tried on Charges of Sedition and Misuse of Public Funds?

On Tuesday, the EU parliament announced it had voted to waive the immunity of former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont (400 vs 248 and 45 abstentions). The same fate befell former Catalan lawmakers and Puigdemont aides Antoni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, with very similar results. The decision paves the way for the reactivation of an arrest warrant suspended in early 2020 when they became members of the European Parliament (MEPs). If successful, they will stand trial in Spain. 

As MEPs —Puigdemont and Comín since June 2019 and Ponsati since January 2020—they were shielded from prosecution. The Spanish judicial system could not extradite them for their roles in the unauthorized independence referendum celebrated in Catalonia in 2017, which led to a unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament.  

Puigdemont and Comín self-exiled in Belgium to avoid being arrested by the Spanish authorities in the wake of the breakaway bid, while Ponsati fled to Scotland. Nine Catalan politicians and activists were convicted for sedition and misuse of funds and sentenced to up to 13 years in prison by the Spanish Supreme Court on 14 October 2019.  

“It’s a sad day for the European parliament. We have lost our immunity, but the European parliament has lost even more than that: as a result, it has also lost European democracy,” said Puigdemont after the news broke out, adding that this was “a clear case of political prosecution.” 

“We will not give up. The political conflict between Catalonia and Spain is no longer an internal affair. We have brought it to the heart of Europe to continue denouncing the repression and political persecution of the Spanish state,” tweeted Puigdemont’s party, Junts.   

“The problems of Catalonia will not be solved in Europe or by Europe. They have to be solved in Spain by bringing all Catalan forces around the table,” said the foreign minister, Arancha González Laya,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya, adding that parliament’s decision was a sign of “respect for the work of the Spanish justice system”. 

The unionist Citizens (Cs) party welcomed the outcome of the vote: “In a democracy, no politician is above the law. Despite the pressures of separatism, the European Parliament just lifted Puigdemont’s immunity. We will continue to highlight nationalism in Europe.” 

Puigdemont, Ponsatí and Comín will appeal against the decision on the grounds of technical irregularities in the Spanish judiciary’s request for the waiver. On the other hand, Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena will issue a European Arrest Warrant, the third one after two previous failed attempts. To secure the extradition of the three MEPs, Llarena requested a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on how the extradition order should be interpreted by EU Law. 

This comes two months after the Brussels Public Prosecutor Office rejected the request for extradition on former Catalan politician Lluís Puig, who served as a conseller in Puigdemont’s cabinet. The court alleged that the authority to request extradition laid not on the Spanish Supreme Court but a Catalan court, and that the presumption of innocence of the Catalan leader was not guaranteed. Llarena wants to know whether the Belgian courts “can question the authority” of the court that issues the order, in this case, the Spanish Supreme Court.

An Earthquake on Spanish Political Soil

The right-wing People’s Party is going through a difficult time. Former party’s treasurer Luis Bárcenas is testifying in court over the so-called Bárcenas Papers, off-the-book accounts reflecting payments to senior party officials that went on between 1990 and 2008. Bárcenas, who is currently serving a 29-year sentence in connection with the sweeping graft case known as Gürtel, said he would cooperate and mentioned former PP minister Mariano Rajoy among the beneficiaries of the undeclared bonuses. “I gave them an envelope containing the amount they were owed,” he told the court  on Monday, identifying the recipients as eight senior PP figures, among them Rajoy and Aznar. 

Pablo Casado, the young party’s leader, is scrambling to fend off the consequences of Bárcenas’ declarations by insisting the PP has come clean and has no ties whatsoever with any of the events involving the former members of the party’s Executive. “Starting today,” Casado said earlier this week, “the party’s Executive will not give any kind of explanation about past issues involving personal actions [those of Bárcenas] that are not beneficial or are detrimental to the party.”  

But on Wednesday a political storm was unleashed that threatened to upend Spain’s political landscape, posing yet another existential threat to the People’s Party and the centre-right Ciudadanos (Cs) parties. 

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the president of the regional government in Madrid, a coalition between PP and Cs, called a snap election on 4 May to avoid a no-confidence motion from the socialist PSOE and CS. Ayuso made the decision shortly after a motion of no confidence was launched against the PP in the southeast region of Murcia by PSOE and Cs. Fearing the same would happen to her in Madrid, she dissolved the regional assembly, stunning Madrid’s deputy premier Ignacio Aguado from Cs, who said Ayuso was being “absolutely irresponsible”, that she was “lying” and had “lost her mind”. Aguado and CS leader Inés Arrimadas had promised the party would support the PP in Madrid until the end of the legislature. But a few hours later, Ayuso sacked Aguado, along with all of the regional department chiefs from that party.

 

It remains unclear whether a snap election will take place in Madrid

 

“I have made this decision against my will. I cannot allow Madrid to lose its freedom,” said Díaz Ayuso in a brief press conference to announce the snap election. She was referring to the potential taking over by the PSOE, which she considers to be an “authoritarian” party. 

The breakup of the Murcia and the Madrid regional governments threatened the stability of other regional governments of Castilla y León and Andalucía, as well as the City Council of Madrid, formed by a coalition of the two parties. However, leaders of all three governments were quick to announce they would not follow suit. 

Despite the rush to call an early election, Díaz Ayuso might not be able to get her way. PSOE and the leftist Más Madrid registered two no-confidence motions against Díaz Ayuso in a bid to avoid the election. The Madrid regional assembly’s governing board accepted the motions because, for the announcement of new elections to be official, it has to appear on the regional gazette.

The move will likely bring the PP and the far-right Vox party closer together, despite Pablo Casado’s claim that the party would stay clear of their extremist views. Cs on the other hand might be facing the beginning of their political irrelevance, unless they play their cards right in the new political landscape.

And Last But Not Least, An Update on the Coronavirus Incidence Rates and Restrictions

On Wednesday, Spain’s Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS) announced travel restrictions from March 26 to April 9 (Easter Week) and from March 17 to 21 (the San José long weekend.)

Perimetral lockdowns will be in place in all territories, except for the Canary and the Balearic Islands. In a bid to avoid nationals to travel to the islands, only regular residents returning home, people taking medical tests or exams, working or taking care of adults with disabilities are allowed to travel provided they test negative in a PCR. The archipelagos will be open for international tourism, with travellers subject to the restrictions put in place from country to country.

Madrid, a region that has refused to implement this and other measures including the closing of the hospitality sector over fears it would greatly damage the region’s economic fabric, rejected the agreement. “Madrid will not be closing its borders. We will take the measures that we believe to be appropriate,” said the regional health chief, Enrique Ruiz Escudero.  

Carolina Darías, Spain’s Health Minister, said the measures were mandatory and that it would take legal action should Madrid keep the region open.

Other measures include a nighttime curfew from 11 pm to 6 am a limit of four people in closed public spaces and six people in open spaces. Only members of the same household can meet in private spaces. 

If the vaccination drive goes according to plan, most of these restrictions will be lifted by the summer. Spain hopes to have vaccinated 70% of the adult population by the end of September. That means 66 million doses will be necessary to inoculate 33 million people, administered at a pace of 2.2 million per week. 

However, Darías said on Monday on the Cadena SER radio network that 4.8 million doses from Janssen are due to arrive in Spain in April. Adding this single-dose jab to the other three vaccines already available would speed up the rollout of the vaccine significantly. 

 

«We still have a long way to go before we reach the objective of 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants

 

Spain has so far administered more than 4.6 million doses, which is 83.4% of those it has received. Care home residents and frontline healthcare workers have now received the two doses of the vaccine. The regional health systems, in charge of the vaccination process, are administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to essential workers under the age of 55 and the other vaccines to the 80-and-over population. In Catalonia, the regional health ministry is demanding the central government to allow the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 55 since studies on the protection offered by the vaccine were not conclusive for those only over the age of 65. However, on Thursday, Denmark, Iceland and Norway announced they had suspended the use of this vaccine as a precaution amid reports of blood clotting in some people who have received it.

Data released on Thursday by the Health Ministry shows the curve has flattened. The 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants is at 132.25. “The incidence indicators show that we are going in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go before we reach the objective of 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants,” said Health Minister Carolina Darias.