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State of Alarm in Spain Likely to End on May 9, A Tight Race in Madrid Regional Elections, Congress Passes First-Ever Climate Change Law

Dear Expat,

As usual since the COVID-19 stormed into our lives, the pandemic occupies most headlines again this week. In Spain, Pedro Sánchez announced the state of alarm that came into force in October last year will end on May 9, provided the situation does not get out of hand. I wouldn’t swear to it. A poll released on Monday predicts a tie in the Madrid election. The left is now stepping up efforts to win the vote and form a leftist government after 26 years of People’s Party rule. However, the popularity of Madrid’s incumbent president Isabel Díaz Ayuso is increasing fabulously. Yesterday saw another historic moment at the Congress of Deputies: the first climate change law was passed, although it has received criticism for its lack of ambition. Spain news in english

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.

The State of Alarm to End on May 9

The state of alarm will end on May 9, PM Pedro Sánchez told a press conference in La Moncloa on Tuesday. Sánchez also set out a series of milestones for the vaccination roll-out to be met in the coming months.

Five million people will be vaccinated by May and 25 million people by mid-July. Also, 33 million people, about 70% of the adult population in Spain, will be inoculated by the end of August. However, after failing to meet the target of vaccinating 80% of the Spanish population over 80 by the end of March, these new commitments have been met with scepticism.

The end of the state of alarm means that regional governments will have it more difficult to implement restrictions and regulations without permission from a regional court.

While some may see it as a positive sign, a brighter light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel, regional governments have expressed concerns over the lack of solid judicial alternatives. Faced with a spike in coronavirus cases, regional authorities might consider it necessary to reactivate strict measures like nighttime curfews. But unlike perimetral lockdowns and social gatherings, curfews would be left without legal backing once the state of alarm expires. The only legal basis available for regional governments were they to implement such measure, is a 1986 public health law.

Last year, after the first state of alarm ended in June, legal chaos led to a series of contradictory measures in Madrid and the Basque Country and some experts and politicians fear the same could happen again.

The end of the state of alarm does not mean we will go back to normal right away. Regional governments would still be in charge of deciding whether to keep restrictions on movements or limit non-essential activity.

On the other hand, health experts feel uncertain the vaccination campaign will have produced the expected results by early May and underscore that some regions may still be in a high-risk situation.

 

While some may see the end of the state of alarm as a positive sign, a brighter light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel, regional governments and health experts fear it might be too early

 

Jonay Ojeda, a specialist in preventive medicine and public health, and a spokesperson for the Spanish Society for Public Health and Health Administration, said to Spanish television that the plan was “risky”, and then added: “I doubt any of my Public Health colleagues would want to renounce to that kind of legal cover.”

According to the latest data, the incidence of cases in Spain is rising after Easter. The percentage of Covid patients occupying the country’s intensive care units (ICUs) was 19.1%, which is “high risk” according to the levels set out by the Health Ministry. The 14-day cumulative incidence of the virus now stands at 189 per 100,000 inhabitants and growing.

All this leads us to how the vaccination campaign is faring in Spain. Pedro Sánchez said during the press conference on Tuesday that in the next few months, the number of vaccines available will more than triple the number of vaccines received during the first quarter of the year. That accounts for 30 million doses. Spanish regions, which are in charge of the vaccine programs, are already setting up mass vaccination sites to speed up the roll-out.

To reach the objective of having 70% of the population vaccinated in summer, a total of 330,000 doses would have to be administered every day. The good news is that on Thursday last week 306,000 doses were given, setting a daily record. So far, 7% of the population has received the two doses of the vaccine necessary for full protection.

After much ado about the Astra Zeneca vaccine and concerns over blood clots and deaths, particularly among women in their forties, Spain will use it to vaccinate people between 60 and 69 years of age.

If you are a UK citizen, the UK Embassy is providing information on how to get your vaccine. “We know that some of you are concerned about how you will be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine in Spain – particularly those of you who don’t receive state healthcare,” said the embassy in a message on the Brits in Spain Facebook community. “The Spanish government has been very clear that they will provide the vaccine to everyone in Spain as a matter of public health, regardless of nationality or how you access healthcare in Spain,” added the embassy note.

What’s with face masks on beaches?

Over the last week, there was a controversy over the mandatory use of face masks on Spanish beaches regardless of the distance between people, as stated by a law published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) on 29 March.

The move sparked a backlash from the tourism industry and some regional governments, including the Balearic Islands, Andalusia and Catalonia, which refused to implement the measure.

Built on a decree passed in June of last year that the new circumstances have partly rendered obsolete, it was amended on Wednesday by the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS), which brings together the central Health Ministry and the regional healthcare chiefs.

Face coverings will not be obligatory during exercise, and for people going swimming in pools, the sea, rivers, reservoirs or lakes, provided the social distance is respected. People alone on the beach or the countryside can also remove the mask, but must wear it if they are in a group of people.

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

A New Poll Forecasts a Tie in the Upcoming Madrid Elections

The political battle for Madrid may end in a tie. The results of a new poll released on Monday leaves the blocks of the right and the left with 68 seats each, one seat short of a majority.

Conducted by the state-owned Centre for Sociological Research (CIS), results suggest that Isabel Díaz Ayuso from the conservative People’s Party will win the election with 39% of the vote and 59 seats in the regional assembly of a total of 136. With the support of extreme-right party Vox, the right will gain 68 seats.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the most seats would go for the socialist PSOE with 25,3% of the votes and 38 seats. A coalition with the leftist parties Más Madrid (20 seats) and Unidas Podemos (10 seats) would give them another 68 seats.

With neither block able to form a majority, the race for the Madrid government is set to become highly contested.

The tie would only be possible, however, provided Vox surpasses the 5% electoral threshold. Other surveys suggest that Vox is losing ground to the People’s Party and that it may fall short of that minimum. The support of the liberal Ciudadanos is not guaranteed either. Following the failed Ciudadanos-PSOE motion of no-confidence against the PP in Murcia, a move that triggered the upcoming snap election in Madrid, Ciudadanos is going into a tailspin. Faced with irrelevance in the Spanish political landscape and even disappearance, Edmundo Bal, the party’s candidate in Madrid, has his work cut out.

As we approach election day, Isabel Díaz Ayuso is gaining more support. Her confrontational tactics against Pedro Sánchez, which she plays out mostly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, seem to be bearing their fruits. Since the beginning of the health crisis, she has taken controversial measures —often opposed to those recommended by the Health Ministry— to stave off further economic damage in the region.

While bars and restaurants remained closed or subject to stringent restrictions in most Spanish regions over Easter, Ayuso decided to keep them open over Easter. Images of locals basking in the sun in sidewalk cafes and restaurants left many perplexed considering that, with a 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases is above the 250-threshold, Madrid is in an extreme risk situation.

The hospitality sector has pledged allegiance to Ayuso. Some restaurants have shown their gratitude by including tapas and dishes in their menus in her honour, in what many see a nascent “ayusomania”. The Pizzart restaurant named one of its pizzas ‘Madonna Ayuso’, while a tapas bar is now serving Ayuso-style potatoes, with “few potatoes but plenty of eggs” (in Spanish ‘eggs’ are a reference to ‘balls’).

Ayuso is expected to double the People’s Party results in the 2019 elections. But despite her popularity, she is not the most valued politician in the region. With 4,9 points out of 10, she falls behind the PSOE candidate, Ángel Gabilondo (5,6 points) and Mónica García of the leftist Más Madrid, (5,4 points).

Congress Passes Climate Change Law

After a decade of negotiations, the first-ever Spanish legislation on climate change was passed yesterday by the vast majority of lawmakers in the Congress of Deputies. The extreme-right party Vox voted against it.

The Climate Change and Energy Transition Law establishes a series of goals for 2030 and seeks to achieve climatic neutrality by 2050. Once the Senate gives its approval, it will likely come into force in May.

By 2030, the government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 23% compared with 1990, increasing the overall consumption of renewable energies by 22%, improving energy efficiency by 39,5%, and ensuring that 74% of the electricity comes from renewable energies and 100% by 2050.

“The lack of ambition is disappointing,” said Inés Sabanés from the leftist Más País-Equo party, who decided to abstain. “It is far below the level recommended by the United Nations,” she added.

The law also sets the year 2040 as the limit to sell combustion engine cars and introduces a ban on searching for fossil fuels in Spanish territories. Municipalities of over 50,000 inhabitants will have to create low-emission zones to reduce air pollution. In six months, the government must pass a housing rehabilitation plan to make Spanish houses more energy efficient.

Dear Expat,

As usual since the COVID-19 stormed into our lives, the pandemic occupies most headlines again this week. In Spain, Pedro Sánchez announced the state of alarm that came into force in October last year will end on May 9, provided the situation does not get out of hand. I wouldn’t swear to it. A poll released on Monday predicts a tie in the Madrid election. The left is now stepping up efforts to win the vote and form a leftist government after 26 years of People’s Party rule. However, the popularity of Madrid’s incumbent president Isabel Díaz Ayuso is increasing fabulously. Yesterday saw another historic moment at the Congress of Deputies: the first climate change law was passed, although it has received criticism for its lack of ambition.

The State of Alarm to End on May 9

The state of alarm will end on May 9, PM Pedro Sánchez told a press conference in La Moncloa on Tuesday. Sánchez also set out a series of milestones for the vaccination roll-out to be met in the coming months.

Five million people will be vaccinated by May and 25 million people by mid-July. Also, 33 million people, about 70% of the adult population in Spain, will be inoculated by the end of August. However, after failing to meet the target of vaccinating 80% of the Spanish population over 80 by the end of March, these new commitments have been met with scepticism.

The end of the state of alarm means that regions will have it more difficult to implement restrictions and regulations without permission from a regional court.

While some may see it as a positive sign, a brighter light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel, regional governments have expressed concerns over the lack of solid judicial alternatives. Faced with a spike in coronavirus cases, regional authorities might consider it necessary to reactivate strict measures like nighttime curfews. But unlike perimetral lockdowns and social gatherings, curfews would be left without legal backing once the state of alarm expires. The only legal basis available for regional governments were they to implement such measure, is a 1986 public health law.

Last year, after the first state of alarm ended in June, legal chaos led to a series of contradictory measures in Madrid and the Basque Country and some experts and politicians fear the same could happen again.

The end of the state of alarm does not mean we will go back to normal right away. Regional governments would still be in charge of deciding whether to keep restrictions on movements or limit non-essential activity.

On the other hand, health experts feel uncertain the vaccination campaign will have produced the expected results by early May and underscore that some regions may still be in a high-risk situation.

 

While some may see the end of the state of alarm as a positive sign, a brighter light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel, regional governments and health experts fear it might be too early

 

Jonay Ojeda, a specialist in preventive medicine and public health, and a spokesperson for the Spanish Society for Public Health and Health Administration, said to Spanish television that the plan was “risky”, and then added: “I doubt any of my Public Health colleagues would want to renounce to that kind of legal cover.”

According to the latest data, the incidence of cases in Spain is rising after Easter. The percentage of Covid patients occupying the country’s intensive care units (ICUs) was 19.1%, which is “high risk” according to the levels set out by the Health Ministry. The 14-day cumulative incidence of the virus now stands at 189 per 100,000 inhabitants and growing.

All this leads us to how the vaccination campaign is faring in Spain. Pedro Sánchez said during the press conference on Tuesday that in the next few months, the number of vaccines available will more than triple the number of vaccines received during the first quarter of the year. That accounts for 30 million doses. Spanish regions, which are in charge of the vaccine programs, are already setting up mass vaccination sites to speed up the roll-out.

To reach the objective of having 70% of the population vaccinated in summer, a total of 330,000 doses would have to be administered every day. The good news is that on Thursday last week 306,000 doses were given, setting a daily record. So far, 7% of the population has received the two doses of the vaccine necessary for full protection.

After much ado about the Astra Zeneca vaccine and concerns over blood clots and deaths, particularly among women in their forties, Spain will use it to vaccinate people between 60 and 69 years of age.

If you are a UK citizen, the UK Embassy is providing information on how to get your vaccine. “We know that some of you are concerned about how you will be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine in Spain – particularly those of you who don’t receive state healthcare,” said the embassy in a message on the Brits in Spain Facebook community. “The Spanish government has been very clear that they will provide the vaccine to everyone in Spain as a matter of public health, regardless of nationality or how you access healthcare in Spain,” added the embassy note.

What’s with face masks on beaches?

Over the last week, there was a controversy over the mandatory use of face masks on Spanish beaches regardless of the distance between people, as stated by a law published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) on 29 March.

The move sparked a backlash from the tourism industry and some regional governments, including the Balearic Islands, Andalusia and Catalonia, which refused to implement the measure.

Built on a decree passed in June of last year that the new circumstances have partly rendered obsolete, it was amended on Wednesday by the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS), which brings together the central Health Ministry and the regional healthcare chiefs.

Face coverings will not be obligatory during exercise, and for people going swimming in pools, the sea, rivers, reservoirs or lakes, provided the social distance is respected. People alone on the beach or the countryside can also remove the mask, but must wear it if they are in a group of people.

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,

A New Poll Forescasts a Tie in the Upcoming Madrid Elections

The political battle for Madrid may end in a tie. The results of a new poll released on Monday leaves the blocks of the right and the left with 68 seats each, one seat short of a majority.

Conducted by the state-owned Centre for Sociological Research (CIS), results suggest that Isabel Díaz Ayuso from the conservative People’s Party will win the election with 39% of the vote and 59 seats in the regional assembly of a total of 136. With the support of extreme-right party Vox, the right will gain 68 seats.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the most seats would go for the socialist PSOE with 25,3% of the votes and 38 seats. A coalition with the leftist parties Más Madrid (20 seats) and Unidas Podemos (10 seats) would give them another 68 seats.

With neither block able to form a majority, the race for the Madrid government is set to become highly contested.

The tie would only be possible, however, provided Vox surpasses the 5% electoral threshold. Other surveys suggest that Vox is losing ground to the People’s Party and that it may fall short of that minimum. The support of the liberal Ciudadanos is not guaranteed either. Following the failed Ciudadanos-PSOE motion of no-confidence against the PP in Murcia, a move that triggered the upcoming snap election in Madrid, Ciudadanos is going into a tailspin. Faced with irrelevance in the Spanish political landscape and even disappearance, Edmundo Bal, the party’s candidate in Madrid, has his work cut out.

As we approach election day, Isabel Díaz Ayuso is gaining more support. Her confrontational tactics against Pedro Sánchez, which she plays out mostly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, seem to be bearing their fruits. Since the beginning of the health crisis, she has taken controversial measures —often opposed to those recommended by the Health Ministry— to stave off further economic damage in the region.

While bars and restaurants remained closed or subject to stringent restrictions in most Spanish regions over Easter, Ayuso decided to keep them open over Easter. Images of locals basking in the sun in sidewalk cafes and restaurants left many perplexed considering that, with a 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases is above the 250-threshold, Madrid is in an extreme risk situation.

A large part of the hospitality sector has pledged allegiance to Ayuso. Some restaurants have shown their gratitude by including in their menus tapas and dishes in her honour, in what many see a nascent “ayusomania”. The Pizzart restaurant named one of its pizzas ‘Madonna Ayuso’, while a tapas bar is now serving Ayuso-style potatoes, with “few potatoes but plenty of eggs” (in Spanish ‘eggs’ are a reference to ‘balls’).

Ayuso is expected to double the People’s Party results in the 2019 elections. But despite her popularity, she is not the most valued politician in the region. With 4,9 points out of 10, she falls behind the PSOE candidate, Ángel Gabilondo (5,6 points) and Mónica García of the leftist Más Madrid, (5,4 points).

Congress Passes Climate Change Law

After a decade of negotiations, the first-ever Spanish legislation on climate change was passed yesterday by the vast majority of lawmakers in the Congress of Deputies. The extreme-right party Vox voted against it.

The Climate Change and Energy Transition Law establishes a series of goals for 2030 and seeks to achieve climatic neutrality by 2050. Once the Senate gives its approval, it will likely come into force in May.

By 2030, the government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 23% compared with 1990, to increasing the overall consumption of renewable energies by 22%, to improving energy efficiency by 39,5%, and to ensuring that 74% of the electricity comes from renewable energies and 100% by 2050.

“The lack of ambition is disappointing,” said Inés Sabanés from the leftist Más País-Equo party, who decided to abstain. “It is far below the level recommended by the United Nations,” she added.

The law also sets the year 2040 as the limit to sell combustion engine cars and introduces a ban on searching for fossil fuels in Spanish territories. Municipalities of over 50,000 inhabitants will have to create low-emission zones to reduce air pollution. In six months, the government must pass a housing rehabilitation plan to make Spanish houses more energy efficient.