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Spain: Political tensions mount as deaths pass 15,000

Tone becomes increasingly antagonistic in fragile Spanish parliament in debate over extending state of emergency

Alyssa McMurtry   | 09.04.2020
Spain: Political tensions mount as deaths pass 15,000

OVIEDO, Spain

As new figures on Thursday took coronavirus deaths in Spain past the 15,000 mark, parliamentary debate over the crisis took a turn towards the more hostile and accusatory.

New government data showed 683 deaths since Wednesday, down from 757 the previous day, but raising Spain’s total death toll to 15,283.

The number of new confirmed cases rose by around 5,700, with the total number of active cases slightly above 100,000.

On a per capita basis, Spain has the highest number of deaths in the world.

Debating extending a state of emergency to April 26, a motion widely expected to pass, parliament’s tone was still markedly hostile compared to debate over two previous extensions.

“In the first vote to extend the state of alarm I said you’re not alone, in the second, I said things weren’t going well, and today I have to say that this is not the way,” said Pablo Casado, leader of the Popular Party.

Casado tore into the government’s handling of the crisis, accusing the government of lying and demanding the release of the “real” number of COVID-19 deaths.

“You have absolutely no moral authority to ask for loyalty, but even so, we’ll support the measures to contain the pandemic,” Casado told Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The leader of the far-right Vox party accused the government of spreading misinformation and bribing the media.

“You don’t have a plan to take Spain out of this tragedy or avoid the misery that’s to come, or that you have brought,” Santiago Abascal told coalition leaders.

Nor did the political strife stop at Spain’s borders. Sanchez also warned that “one of the biggest challenges in this pandemic has to do with Europe,” saying a lack of solidarity could put the entire European Union at risk, perhaps referring to the north-south divide over aid to fight the outbreak.

Sanchez also officially convoked a meeting for all politicians and actors who are interested in forming a “grand pact” to get through the crisis.

Spain is currently governed by a left-wing coalition, which was only able to form with the support of six smaller parties. Since 2015, Spain has held four national elections.

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