Catholicism is no longer state religion in Spain, but is still favored by the state in some respects. Nearly three-quarters of the population count as Catholics, but just under half of them attend church regularly.
During the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975), the Catholic Church was one of the most important pillars of power. With democratization after 1975, the church lost its religious monopoly and in the constitution of 1978 the state religion was abolished. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church still has some privileges. For example, the Spaniards can choose to dedicate up to 0.7 percent of their income tax to the Catholic Church or to individual organizations but not to other religious communities.
The leadership of the Catholic Church is dominated by conservative bishops and priests, but there is also a liberal falsehood that the Vatican views with disbelief. Church leadership was often in conflict with the Socialist government from 2004 to 2011, including when it came to gay marriage (see Social Conditions).
About a tenth of the residents belong to other religions, such as Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. About 1.4 million residents are Muslims.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Spain, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
The border between Spain and Portugal is reopened
Now Spain and Portugal are opening the border between the countries, which as a result of the corona pandemic has been closed since March 16. It will take place at a ceremony involving both King of Spain Felipe VI, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa. In Spain, about 50 minor outbreaks of covid-19 have been reported, but according to authorities the situation is under control. It happens the day after the European Council agreed to allow people from 14 countries outside the EU to make unnecessary trips to the Union (Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay).
Spain closes eight coal-fired power stations
Spain shuts down eight of the country’s 15 coal-fired power plants. This is done with reference to the fact that they do not support themselves and that their emissions are greater than the EU allows. Experts on energy issues point out that it is now cheaper to build new power plants that are powered by renewable energy than to continue to operate the coal power plants. The decision to close the power plants is made by four electricity companies owned by the Italian group Enel.
The layoff program is extended
Spain extends its labor layoff program for another three months until the end of September, following a settlement with trade unions and employers’ organizations. No staff may be laid off for six months after the termination period ends, although the Spanish government says it will realize that cuts will be made. The government fears that unemployment may rise to around 19 percent by the end of the year. Between mid-March and the end of May, about 3.7 million people were covered by the layoff program, according to Madrid.
Spain raises national emergency
Spain is now lifting the national emergency that has been in effect since mid-March. It also means that tourists from other EU countries and countries that are members of the Schengen Customs Union are again welcome to visit the country. It is important for the economy to recover, normally tourism accounts for just over a tenth of GDP. The government has announced a support package of just over EUR 4 billion for the tourism sector. The Spaniards are also invited to tourists at home this year. Some restrictions will continue to be in force, among other things, people must keep a physical distance and wear mouth protection in public transport. According to official figures, over 28,000 people have died in covid-19 in Spain, but criticism has been directed at how Spanish authorities report the death toll.
Trial of Jesuit murder in Spain in El Salvador
A trial begins in Madrid against a Salvadoran former colonel, Inocente Montano, who is suspected of having ordered the notable murder of six Jesuit priests and two other people in 1989. Five of the priests were Spaniards. A man suspected of committing the murders is a witness in the trial of Montano, a former Salvadoran deputy minister who is suspected to have been part of a right-wing extremist group that opposed peace talks with the left-wing FMLN. Montano was extradited to Spain from the United States in 2017, where he moved in 2002 and where he was sentenced to prison for migration and imprisonment. El Salvador has so far refused to extradite other suspected officers in the case to Spain.
Spain opens up to France and Portugal June 22
Spain will open its borders with France and Portugal on June 22, about three months after they were closed. However, anyone traveling into the country must be in quarantine for 14 days.
Hate mood when Congress extends health emergency
Following a fierce debate in Parliament’s lower chamber, the Congress, the government is receiving yet another extension of parts of the health emergency introduced in March against the ongoing corona pandemic. This time until June 21st. This is done with the help of the bourgeois Ciudadanos and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), while Catalonia’s Republican Left (ERC) is casting its votes, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is also trying to gather support for a transformation of the Spanish economy to make it more sustainable. He also called for help to push the EU for the support fund that is underway to deal with the financial problems following the pandemic, with Spain hoping to receive € 140 billion in grants and loans. The right-wing parties Folkpartiet (PP) and Vox, for their part, harshly criticized Sánchez’s Social Democratic Party (PSOE) and his government’s way of dealing with the pandemic. The PP leader blamed Sánchez for so many Spaniards having died in covid-19. Vox leader Santiago Abascal instead criticized Pablo Iglesias, leader of the smaller Unidas Podemos government, whom he threatened to face.
Spain for basic income
The Spanish government decides to introduce a basic income from the month of June, in order to counteract the poverty that has followed in the wake of the corona crisis. Single households are guaranteed an income of 462 euros per month, while families will receive an additional 139 euros per person (with a maximum limit of 1 015 euros per household). According to the government, around 850,000 households will be eligible for basic income. The measure is designed to help the approximately 1.6 million people living in extreme poverty.
The dismissal of senior police chief creates turbulence
Spanish Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska denies dismissing the head of the Madrid Civil Guard, Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos, because of a report speculating on the connection between the spread of the new corona virus and the major events held during International Women’s Day on March 8, just six days before the government announces a national emergency (see March 2020)). The report also mentions a large demonstration organized by right-wing populist Vox and a football match at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. It should also have been sent to a judge to find out if the head of Spain’s infection control authority, Fernando Simón, has committed any wrongdoing. The dismissal of Diego Pérez de los Cobos results in the second highest chief of the Civil Guard resigning in protest, and the opposition also calls for the Interior Minister to be dismissed.
Spain announces ten days of country grief
Spain will, from October 27, hold a ten-day period of national grief to express its grief and honor those who have died in covid-19. Among other things, there will be a ceremony for the dead under the leadership of King Felipe VI.
Official death figures are written down
Spanish authorities now write down the number of people who have died in covid-19 with almost 2,000 people. This after going through all the information and including the deaths that have been recorded twice and those that have been found to have died for reasons other than covid-19. The new official figure for deceased in covid-19 in Spain is now 26,834.
Spain opens to foreign tourists in July
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says foreign tourists will be welcomed to Spain from July, under safe conditions.
Thousands participate in car protests organized by Vox
In several parts of Spain, protests are being organized by the right-wing populist party Vox against how the Spanish government has handled the corona crisis. In Madrid, around 6,000 cars gather. Participants whistle and wave Spanish flags. Vox leader Santiago Abascal speaks to the participants via a broadcast from the radio network EsRadio, saying that the participants are there to defend their freedom and he accuses Madrid of being the worst government in the world. Similar protests are held on the same day in all Spanish provincial capitals, one of the largest is in Seville, with about as many participating cars as in Madrid.
Political tensions are growing
Political tensions in Spain are rising. The latest extension of the health emergency takes place with the help of Ciudadano’s and small regional parties, while the People’s Party (PP) votes against and PP leader Pablo Casado harshly criticizes how the government has handled the pandemic and the strict quarantine of the country. By relying on Ciudadanos, who has a hard line against separatist parties, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez risks annoying the parties that allowed him to form a government at the beginning of the year. One sensitive thing is also that before the vote on May 21, the government entered into a settlement with the Basque separatist party Bildu for it to cast its votes (some in Spain see Bildu as an heir to the separatist movement ETA’s political branch).
Oral protection mandatory in Spain
All Spaniards over six years must wear mouthguards in all situations where physical distance is not possible, according to a new decree from the government.
The health emergency is renewed again
The Spanish government extends the health emergency introduced in March to fight the spread of the new corona virus until June 7. The decision is made with the support of the Ciudadanos bourgeoisie, which, however, did not want the one-month extension previously announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. The Spanish Parliament’s lower house, the Congress, will vote on the proposal on May 20. At the same time, there are several signs that the situation in Spain is improving, three days in a row the number of deaths in covid-19 has been below 100 and the number of newly infected in Spain is not increasing as rapidly as before. Opinion polls indicate that six out of ten Spaniards support an extension of the tough restrictions. A few days earlier, however, several demonstrations had been held in several discotheques in Madrid, supported by the country’s right-wing parties, where demands were made that Sánchez should resign and that the Spaniards should have greater freedom. Similar protests have also occurred in Seville in southern Spain.
Hard hit against Spanish economy
The Spanish economy seems to be taking more strikes than previously thought. According to the Spanish central bank, GDP will shrink by between 9.5 and 12.4 per cent in 2020, and then begin to grow again. Central Bank Governor Pablo Hernández de Cos says that Spain has been particularly exposed as tourism, the hospitality industry, transport and trade account for about a quarter of GDP.
New easing of restrictions
Now there is further relief in the restrictions imposed to combat covid-19, but this is happening at different rates in different parts of the country. Now there are also some easements in the quarantine in the Madrid region, Barcelona and the Castile and León region in the northwest, among other things, smaller stores will be opened and welcome customers without prior booking. Museums and universities may also resume operations, and up to 15 people may attend funerals if held outdoors, ten if held indoors.
Study: Few Spaniards have antibodies against covid-19
Only five percent of Spaniards have been infected with covid-19, at least according to a Spanish study, where blood tests have taken nearly 70,000 people. The study was done to find out how many Spaniards have developed antibodies to the disease. However, there are major regional differences, according to the newspaper El País. In the most vulnerable areas, the Province of Soria, north of the capital and the Madrid region, antibodies developed 14.2 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively. In some regions such as Murcia, Asturias and the Canary Islands, the proportion was significantly lower, below 2 percent. This means that Spain is far from the herd immunity that could help stop the spread of infection. The study also indicates that 90 percent of the disease cases were not detected by the healthcare system. Spain has so far had over 228,000 confirmed cases of covid-19.
Spain quarantine for travelers from abroad
From May 15, Spain will introduce a two-week quarantine for anyone traveling to the country from abroad. You also want to limit how many passengers are allowed to travel on the same aircraft, but there is no legislation today that makes this possible. The measures are aimed at avoiding a second wave of infection by covid-19. The decision raises protests from the tourism industry but also from the airlines.
The emergency is extended to May 24
The Spanish parliament’s lower house, Congress, is voting to extend the national emergency in the country for another two weeks, until May 24. It is the fourth time Congress votes to extend the state of emergency introduced March 14 to prevent the continued spread of the new corona virus that causes covid-19. At the end of April, however, some restrictions were made in the restrictions. In order to get congressional approval, it was forced to give up some concessions to the bourgeois Ciudadanos and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). However, the Conservative People’s Party (PP) chose to abstain. 75 members voted against the extension.
New easing of restrictions
New easing of restrictions is announced today, but only in some parts of the country. People in Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Malaga and parts of northeastern Spain will continue to quarantine. Schools will partially be reopened on May 26, but teaching will not start as usual until September. From May 11, some bars and restaurants will be allowed to open, but the rules are not seriously eased until June 10, and the establishment must ensure that guests stay in the distance. On May 26, cinemas, theaters and exhibitions will be reopened, but may only receive a limited number of guests. Outdoor concerts will also be allowed, with an audience of up to 400 people.
GDP falls by more than 5 percent
The Spanish economy is hit hard by the Corona crisis. GDP falls by more than five percent during the first quarter of 2020. At the same time, the Statistics Agency warns of large uncertainties in the figures due to difficulties in collecting data.
Unemployment rises above 14 percent
Unemployment has risen to over 14 percent in Spain during the first quarter of the year, according to the country’s statistical body INE. Thus, Spain is one of the eurozone countries with the highest unemployment rate after Greece.
Spain opens on May 4
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announces in a speech that the process of opening up society will take place gradually over a period of six to eight weeks according to the plan that has now been approved by the government. From May 4, some small businesses, including hardware stores and restaurants that can offer take-away food, will be able to resume their operations. All purchases must be pre-booked and only one customer at a time should be allowed in the premises. Hairdressers and gyms are also allowed to open, but must follow strict safety rules. Those over the age of 65 may only visit stores and other establishments at designated times. Churches, mosques and other religious sites may also be opened, but with restrictions on how many may participate in religious services or other activities. People should also be allowed to travel within their own province. For the time being, however, Spaniards will not be able to travel to other provinces or increase to visit relatives or go to summer houses. So far, almost 24,000 people have died in covid-19 in Spain. The death toll per day has fallen recently, from 950 on April 2 to below 400 per day over the past five days.
Quarantine is facilitated for Spanish children
Children under the age of 14 will from 27 April be allowed to accompany an adult to a grocery store, pharmacy or bank. However, they will not be allowed to walk. Children between the ages of 14 and 18 will be able to do the same without an adult’s company. The message was immediately met by protests in social media, arguing that it was not logical for children to enter enclosed rooms when the risk of infection would be significantly less if they were allowed to move outdoors. The protests lead to the government reversing and deciding that children under the age of 14 may go for walks in the company of an adult. They may come out once a day and move no more than one kilometer from the home.
The Corona crisis hits the Spanish economy
The Spanish economy will shrink by between 6.6 and 13.6 percent in 2020, according to a forecast from the Spanish central bank. According to the bank, the large range is due to the uncertainty surrounding how long large sections of society will be closed because of the ongoing pandemic. At the same time, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the EU summit later this week plans to request a record € 1.5 trillion support for the hardest hit economies to recover. And that it should be about grants, not loans. However, he has not brought the other two hard-hit countries, Italy and France, into this. They are advocating another solution that they hope to be able to get Germany to accept, which is not the case with the Spanish proposal.
Sánchez plans for relief in the emergency
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a televised speech that he would ask Congress to extend the emergency on March 14 to combat the ongoing pandemic. He wants it to last until May 9, but with some relief. From April 27, he wants children to be able to go out in certain conditions, something that, among others, Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau has demanded. Opposition leader Pablo Casado from the People’s Party (PP) has also advocated this. The government then wants to gradually ease the restrictions of May 11. In this area too, regions, including Andalusia, where relatively few cases of covid-19 have been detected, have pressed for some measures to be lifted. Until April 19, nearly 20,500 people have died in covid-19 in Spain.
Quarantine is lifted for certain occupational groups
Today, some staff start returning to their jobs after several weeks in quarantine. These include, among others, those working on construction and within the industry. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, despite warnings from some health experts and some opposition politicians, it is too early for this. The criticism from Catalonia is particularly harsh. The rules that apply now are the same as those that were in force before the national emergency was announced in mid-March, ie schools, restaurants, cultural institutions and sports facilities will continue to be closed. As an extra safety measure, ten million mouthguards should be distributed, including to those traveling to work with public transport. Up to April 12, nearly 17,500 deaths in covid-19 have been reported in Spain, nearly 170,000 cases of the disease have been confirmed and almost 65,000 people have recovered. However, it is pointed out that the death rate is even higher, since only those tested positive for covid-19 before they have died are counted. This means that the figures do not include many of those who have died at home or in elderly homes and who have not been confirmed to suffer from the disease.
National emergency is prolonged
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s decision to extend the national emergency in Spain to April 26 is gaining support in Parliament’s House of Commons, after a fierce debate at times. But only the right-wing populist Vox and the separatist parties from Catalonia and the Basque country are voting against the decision. The action taken to prevent the spread of the new corona virus was earlier on April 12 as the end date. Sánchez says he is likely to request another two-week extension by the end of April. However, the idea is that the restrictions will gradually be eased during this period.
Mass testing is prepared by people in important industries
The Spanish government is preparing mass tests of people working in important industries and showing no symptoms of covid-19. This concerns both healthcare personnel (both in hospitals and the elderly), police officers, those working with food supply and shipping. The government is now preparing infrastructure so that those who are found to be infected can be isolated. It is not yet clear whether quarantine will be mandatory
Lower death rates in Spain
Hundreds of people still die every day in covid-19 in Spain, but now the numbers have begun to decline. Today, 674 people have died of the viral disease, compared to 809 the day before. It is the lowest death toll in ten days in the country. At the same time, the number of newly infected persons has increased by five percent during the same day, which is the lowest figure since the crisis began. So far, almost 131,000 confirmed cases of the viral disease have been reported in Spain, of which just over 12,500 have died.
Over 10,000 dead in covid-19 in Spain
Now over 10,000 people have died in Spain in covid-19, of which 1,000 in the past 24 hours. At the same time, it is clear that almost 900,000 people lost their jobs during the quarantine. About half a million of them had temporary jobs.
Care professionals turn to the court for protective equipment
The dissatisfaction with the lack of protective equipment is growing among healthcare professionals in Spain. In ten of the country’s 17 regions, trade unions representing health care workers have initiated legal processes for judges to order the regional boards to produce the protective equipment they are required by law to provide within 24 hours. About 15,000 doctors and nurses have so far been confirmed to be infected by covid-19. This is almost 15% of all confirmed cases in Spain. In the Madrid region, the proportion is even higher, 21 percent.
Sánchez wants to extend the quarantine until April 25
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announces an extension of the shut down of Spanish society to April 25 with the aim of reducing the spread of the new corona virus. For it to apply, however, it must be approved by the Madrid Parliament.
Measures are taken to stop evictions
The Spanish government prohibits landlords from evicting their tenants because they cannot pay their rent due to the ongoing corona crisis. It is also forbidden for electricity and water companies to switch off electricity and water due to unpaid bills. In the past, the government has introduced deferral of interest payments to try to prevent people from losing their homes. Social Minister Pablo Iglesias, from Unidas Podemas, says that the government will also lend money to tenants who need help to pay their rents. The question of evictions is sensitive in Spain, as many Spaniards lost their homes in the recent financial crisis. Measures are being taken at the same time as 849 new deaths due to covid-19 have been reported for one day. A total of 8 149 people have so far died in the viral disease in Spain.
Temporary stop for funerals
Spain bans all funerary ceremonies, both religious and civil, until April 11. The ban also applies to home vacancies. Only three people are allowed to attend burials. To date, 7,340 people have died in covid-19 in Spain.
The government tightens the restrictions
The Spanish government is now tightening the restrictions imposed on restricting the spread of the new corona virus in the country. The Spaniards are now only allowed to leave their homes to buy food or buy medicines. Anyone who does not have work that is considered indispensable is ordered to stay at home. They will also now receive salary, but will work it in at a later time (read more about the restrictions in El País). The rules do not apply to those who can work from home. The restrictions apply between March 30 and April 9.
Congress approves crisis measures, but the right criticizes Sánchez
Parliament’s lower house, Congress, approves new crisis measures to combat the corona pandemic presented by the government earlier this week (see March 23, 2020). The health emergency is now extended to April 12. The measures are approved by most of the congressional parties, with one exception, however, are the Catalan independence parties and the Basque EH Bildu who cast their votes. Only 43 of the 350 members participate in the vote. Although the People’s Party (PP) approves the crisis measures, party leader Pablo Casado criticizes how Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has handled the crisis. He says, among other things, that Sánchez has received the most extensive powers imaginable, but believes that he has not used them effectively. Similar criticism comes from right-wing populist Vox leader Santiago Abascal. At the same time, it is announced that Spain will buy medical equipment from China for € 432 million). So far, over 3,600 people have died of covid-19 in Spain, which is more than in China,
Sánchez wants a Marshall Plan for the EU
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez urges the EU to put in place a major joint effort to get member countries back on their economies when the corona pandemic is over, the Marshall Plan was similar as the US provided extensive financial support to Europe after the Second World War. According to the Spanish newspaper EI País, Spain has so far been low on demands for new investments, while France and Italy have pushed and Germany, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries are slowing down.
National emergency is about to be extended
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez extends the national emergency, introduced in mid-March, for another 15 days, until April 11. But in order for this to be possible, he must now have it approved by Parliament’s lower house of Congress. Several of the opposition parties have previously signaled that they are prepared to support this. At the same time, the government is imposing new restrictions on traffic through airports and ports, only freight traffic, Spanish citizens and EU citizens who have a permanent residence permit in Spain are allowed to enter that country, with some exceptions. The national police say that 23,000 violations of the quarantine rules have been registered and 64 people have been arrested for violating them. More than 33,000 cases of covid-19 have been registered in Spain, of which more than a tenth are healthcare workers. Nearly 2,200 people have died of the viral disease. There are reports that soldiers assisting the authorities have found abandoned nursing homes, in some cases with dead patients in their beds. The government is launching an investigation into this.
Over 1,300 dead in covid-19 in Spain
Spain is now stepping up its efforts to fight the corona pandemic and plans to use several field hospitals. The number of health care workers has also increased by 52,000, of which 14,000 are retired doctors and nurses. At the same time, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warns that an even harder time lies ahead of the Spaniards. Up to March 21, almost 25,000 cases of covid-19 have been reported in Spain, which was almost 5,000 more than the day before, and more than 1,300 people have so far died of the viral disease. The majority of those who have died were over 70, and about 70 percent of those receiving intensive care are over 60. However, between 1 and 2 percent of those cared for in hospitals are under 20 years of age.
Spanish hotels close
The Spanish government decides that all hotels that house tourists should be closed within seven days. Exceptions are made for guest houses where the guests live for a long time. Several thousand soldiers have been called in to assist the authorities in trying to limit the spread of infection. Promises are also being made to assist elderly residents with care options. Since then, 17 patients have died in a nursing home when they have not had access to hospital care. According to Minister of Transport José Luis Ábalos, car traffic in Spain has dropped to a tenth of what it was at the same time in 2019 and air traffic has more than halved. The reduction was even greater in the case of long-distance trains.
Nearly 14,000 cases of covid-19 in Spain
The number of cases of covid-19 is increasing rapidly in Spain, and over 13,700 cases of the viral disease have been reported and almost 600 deaths. At the same time, it is difficult to know how many people are actually ill and Spain, like several other countries, has had a shortage of test equipment. But new equipment should have reached the country by now
Spanish support package of EUR 200 billion
The Spanish government announces a support package worth € 200 billion to counter the financial impact of the ongoing corona pandemic. It allows Spaniards to postpone mortgage payments, reduce payments to the social security system and reimbursement to workers who have to take care of relatives. Half of the money should go to supporting companies that otherwise risk being overthrown. The aid package corresponds to 20 percent of Spain’s GDP. 100,000 Spaniards risk being laid off because of the crisis.
Spain is closing its borders
Spain is closing its borders to neighboring countries and all foreign nationals who come to the border posts are forced to return. Measures are being taken to prevent the continued transmission of the new corona virus. Spain is now the worst affected country in Europe after Italy, with over 11,000 cases of covid-19 disease, of which 2,000 cases have been reported only in the last 24 hours. Nearly 500 people have died. Almost half of the sick are in the Madrid region. At the same time, the financial consequences are starting to become tangible and at least 100,000 people are at risk of losing their jobs.
Ex-King Juan Carlos in windy weather
King Felipe VI chooses to withdraw the monkey for his father, the former King Juan Carlos I, and waives all inheritance rights. This is done after revelations in the Swiss press that in 2007, when he was still the King of Spain, he must have secretly received the equivalent of EUR 88 million from Saudi Arabia through accounts in tax havens. The money is said to have been a bribe in connection with a Spanish consortium being awarded a contract to build a highway in Saudi Arabia. Much of the money should have gone to Juan Carlos’s private travels, but the current king should also have received money through two foundations: Zagatka and Lucum. However, the court denies that Felipe should have had any knowledge of where the money came from. The monopoly that is withdrawn amounts to just over 194,000 euros a year.
Spain calls for national emergency
14th of March
The Spanish government announces via decreea national emergency for 15 days to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. It will take effect at midnight on March 14. Since then, 288 people have died of covid-19 in Spain, and 7,750 people have been infected by the virus in Spain. The emergency situation means that all power is transferred to Madrid. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska now controls national as well as regional and local police forces. All Spaniards are requested to stay at home, they are only allowed to leave their homes to work, buy food, medicines and other necessary goods, visit health care facilities, refuel vehicles and in an emergency, etc. Restaurants, cafes, cinemas, shops that sell other than food and other similar establishments must keep closed. Religious services and burials may be conducted as long as they do not gather for many people and those who attend keep at least one meter distance from each other. Bus and rail traffic may continue, but at half their capacity. The government guarantees access to electricity, oil and gas and that food reaches consumers.
“Health emergency” is announced in the Basque Country
the 13th of March
Now, the Basque country also faces severe restrictions on trying to limit the spread of the new corona virus and at the same time announces a “health emergency”. Spain is severely affected and so far over 3,100 cases of covid-19 have been reported and 84 people have died from the disease. Almost half of the cases have been reported in the Madrid region.
Sánchez promises extra support to deal with the corona crisis
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says that the EU has announced that it will not adhere strictly to the budgetary rules as previously because of the Corona crisis. At the same time, he announces extra money to small and medium-sized companies so that they can cope with the problems caused by the crisis. In addition, support is given to parents who cannot work as a result of having to take care of their children after schools are closed. Shortly thereafter, Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra announces a stop for all events that gather more than 1,000 participants. All sporting events must also be held without crowds. Later, four Catalan cities of Igualada, Vilanova del Camí, Santa Margarida de Montbui and Òdena with a total of 70,000 residents are quarantined over two weeks. Almost one fifth of the 319 cases reported in Catalonia have been discovered in Igualada.
Over 1,200 patients in Covid-19
In Spain, up to today, more than 1,200 people have been infected by the new corona virus, which is feared to cause a pandemic. 30 people have died in the disease Covid-19 and 74 receive intensive care. Most vulnerable are the Madrid region and the Álava region in the Basque Country. There, schools and universities will remain closed for 15 days starting March 11. Anyone who can work at home is encouraged to do so. Everyone who shows symptoms should be tested for corinavirus. For the first time, the Spanish government admits that it has no control over the outbreak of the disease. Representatives of the crisis group at the Ministry of Health question the school closures, as many children will be taken care of by grandparents who are extra sensitive to the disease.
The Spanish government approves extradition to the United States
The Spanish government has approved that General Hugo Carvajal, the former head of the intelligence service in Venezuela, can be extradited to the United States who requested him extradited for involvement in drug smuggling. However, he has disappeared since April 2019, when a Spanish court approved the extradition.
Spain can have the kind of consent
4th of March
The Spanish government supports a bill that means that sexual intercourse without consent is equated with rape. The law means that it is forbidden to have sex with a person who has not explicitly stated yes or actively shown that they want to participate. In particularly serious offenses, the perpetrator can be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. According to the bill, the penalty should be higher if the victim is the perpetrator’s partner or former partner. Equality Minister Irene Montero says she intends to present the bill to Congress for International Women’s Day on March 8.
Congress agrees on the ceiling for state spending
The Spanish parliament’s lower house, the Congress, agreed to set a ceiling for how large the state’s expenditure may become in the coming financial year. According to the plan, the budget deficit for 2020 should not exceed 1.8 per cent of GDP, and the idea is that the ceiling should be lowered to 0.9 percent by 2023. Under EU rules, the deficit must not exceed 3 percent of GDP. According to the Spanish government’s estimates, the budget deficit corresponded to 2 percent of GDP in 2019. 168 members voted in favor of the proposal, 150 against and 19 members cast their votes.
Sánchez initiates talks with Catalan leaders
Pedro Sánchez initiates talks in Madrid with Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra and representatives of Catalonia’s Republican Left (ERC). The future of the Spanish coalition government depends on the success of the deliberations. But at the first meeting, the parties find it difficult to agree on a common agenda. The government side blatantly says no to Catalan demands for a referendum on independence and that the nine Catalan politicians imprisoned should be granted amnesty.
Spain will introduce new tax on digital services
Spain introduces a new tax on digital services of 3 percent. This includes digital advertising, sales of data collected via digital platforms. The new law will not come into force until December 2020 to give the OECD time to work out a global alternative to the tax, which has been criticized by the United States for unilaterally targeting US companies such as Google and Facebook.
Difficult to dismiss employees who have been on sick leave
The Spanish government prohibits employers from dismissing employees who are often on sick leave. It is a first step to tear down the tough labor market laws that were introduced in 2012, when the Spanish economy was in deep crisis. Until now, it has been possible to dismiss employees who have been sick for a week or more, if their sick leave the year before had exceeded 2.5 percent of working hours. According to a report from the IMF, these rules are portrayed as a success for the labor market, while critics of the law say that it only creates insecurity for employees. it is much more common for workers in Spain to get temporary contracts for work than it is in the rest of the EU. The unemployment rate of just under 14 percent is still the second highest in the EU, after Greece.
European Court of Justice: Spain had the right to reject Melilla migrants
The European Court of Justice states that Spain did not make a mistake when in August 2014, two migrants, one from Mali and one from Ivory Coast, who entered the Spanish exclave were immediately rejected. Melilla in North Africa by climbing over the surrounding fences. However, the Court considers that they had no right to request this because they did not come to Spain via the right channels. The verdict is criticized by Amnesty who believes that the Spanish police sent the men back to Morocco without even considering why they tried to go to Melilla or if they intended to seek asylum. They also had no opportunity to appeal the rejection decision. In the same vein as the court’s ruling comes, it becomes clear that immigration policy creates tension within the government, as Unidas Podemos opposes plans for a tightening of the Spanish asylum laws. According to the Ministry of the Interior’s proposal, it should, among other things, be easier to reject asylum seekers if, for example, it is considered to be safe areas in the country from which the person has moved. Anyone intending to apply for asylum should, if the proposal is adopted, have to do it much faster than today. But tensions within the government have also been heightened by the Ministry of the Interior deciding to send more paperless migrants back to Mauritania, with the aim of reducing the pressure on the Canary Islands to which many West African migrants have recently applied.
Clear sign for bill on active euthanasia
Spain is now taking the first step towards any legislation that allows active euthanasia. Parliament’s lower house, Congress, votes for a first proposal on the issue, with just over 200 votes in favor and 140 against, two members casting their votes (the number of yes votes differs between different sources). In addition to the two government parties, Ciudadanos and several smaller parties also voted in favor of the proposal, while the right-wing parties PP and Vox oppose it, as did the Catholic Church. According to the bill, patients should be able to get help to take their lives through public care, but the law only covers people who are dying or who suffer from a severe and incurable illness or a serious and chronic disability. Before the law can be passed, it must be debated and approved by both Congress and the Senate. This is the third time in a year that the Socialist Party has initiated new legislation that will decriminalize euthanasia. The issue was raised in the spring of 2019 after a man helped his wife, who has been ill for many years, to take her life. Under current law, a person who tries to help someone to take their life can be sentenced to up to five years in prison, the person who provides active euthanasia risks being sentenced to up to ten years in prison for murder.
Elections in April in the Basque Country and Galicia
Galicia and the Basque region announce regional elections until April 5. The regional leaders say they have chosen a joint election day so as not to tire out voters with further election campaigns, after several years of frequent national elections. Catalonia will also hold elections, but no date has been set yet (see January 2020).
Sánchez and Quim Torra in a first meeting
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has his first meeting with Catalan regional president Quim Torra in Barcelona. They agree to launch talks between the Madrid government and the regional governments later this year to try to find a way to reduce tensions between Catalonia, which wants to break out of Spain, and the rest of the country. Today’s meeting, however, is just a formality, the difficult negotiations are further ahead. The disagreement between the two Catalan governments Together for Catalonia (JuntsxCat) and Catalonia’s Republican Left (ERC) may make it easier for Sánchez to reach a deal, but he has fragile support in Parliament and all concessions to Catalan independence would be very unpopular in large parts of the country,
More migrants are trying to get to the Canary Islands
An increasing number of African migrants and asylum seekers are trying to reach the Canary Islands. In January 2020, over 700 compared to 40 the same month the year before. At the same time, the number of people trying to reach the Spanish mainland by boat has decreased by 72 percent compared to the same period the year before. 88 people, most of them from Mali, have been sent back by air, via Mauritania. Overall, the number of migrants has more than halved in 2019 when compared with the previous year. The decrease is largely due to the fact that Morocco, with the help of money from the EU, has acted more actively to stop migrant traffic.
New elections in progress in Catalonia
Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra announces unexpected new elections. But he does not specify a date for the election which he says will be implemented as soon as the regional budget has been adopted by the Catalan Parliament. One reason for this is growing contradictions within the ruling coalition and a verdict that seems to threaten his political future. The Election Authority has previously taken away from Torra his seat in the regional parliament (see January 3, 2020)). It has called on the regional parliament to immediately shut him down, something that Together for Catalonia (JuntsxCat) has refused. JuntsxCat has also called on Catalonia’s Republican Left (ERC) to do the same, which the EUC has not agreed to. The ERC’s decision to support the Pedro Sánchez government in Madrid has also created tensions between the two Catalan parties. The talk of new elections causes Madrid to postpone the conversation they are scheduled to hold with Torra on February 6.
The government announces wage increases and tight budgets
The Government has now agreed with trade unions and employers’ organizations that the minimum wage should be increased by 5.5 percent, to EUR 1,108 a month. In the past, the government has increased wages for civil servants by 2 percent. At the same time, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez stressed that the government should pursue a strict economic policy and for 2020 a budget deficit of 1.7 percent, compared with 2 percent in 2019. Business organizations and some analysts question whether this is possible, especially given that the business cycle is slowing down.
Spain announces climate emergency
The Spanish government announces a climate emergency and promises that Spain by 2050 will not emit any carbon dioxide at all. The government promises to present a plan on how this will be accomplished within ten days.
The Gloria storm requires at least 13 lives
At least 13 people perish when the Gloria storm sweeps over southern and eastern Spain, with strong winds, heavy rainfall and extensive snowfall. According to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, there has been more rainfall in one day than usually falls in a year.
The government is criticized for choosing a new national prosecutor
The Spanish government conflicts with parts of the judiciary when it nominates former Minister of Justice Dolores Delgado as new state prosecutor. The government is criticized for further politicizing the Spanish judiciary. The criticism comes from both lawyers and parts of the political opposition, including from the conservative PP. However, Delgado is approved by the Legal Council (Consejo General del Poder Judicial, CGPJ) which oversees the judiciary and guarantees its independence, with twelve votes in favor and seven against. Delgado will also be heard by the congressional justice committee before the government finally makes the decisive decision.
Pensions are being raised in line with inflation
One of the new left government’s first measures will be to raise pensions so that they are at the same level as inflation, which means just under one percent in 2020. If prices rise even more, an adjustment of pension levels will be made in 2021, according to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. In recent years, Spanish retirees have repeatedly walked the streets to protest against low pensions.
The government coalition takes office
Spain’s new government takes office, with Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) as Prime Minister and four Deputy Prime Ministers, Pablo Iglesias, of the Unidas Podemos coalition partner, and Carmen Calvo, Nadia Calviño and Teresa Ribera of the PSOE. In addition to Iglesias, Unidas Podemos receives four ministerial posts (responsible for the labor market, gender equality, higher education and consumer issues). In connection with taking office, Sánchez emphasizes the importance of striving for unity, and for the entire government to move in the same direction. Priority will be given to issues related to social rights and sustainable development (Agenda 2030).
HD goes against the EU court in the Junqueras case
The Madrid High Court (HD) decides that Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras should not be temporarily released from prison in order to take his place in the European Parliament, thereby granting prosecutorial immunity. HD thus opposes a ruling in the EU court at the end of 2019 (see December 2019) and states that Junqueras, under Spanish law, is not entitled to sit in the European Parliament. HD thus follows the same line as the Spanish Electoral Commission. Junqueras was sentenced in October 2019 to 13 years in prison for his role in the Catalan independence referendum held in 2017. The day after, on January 10, the European Parliament decides that Junqueras should not be allowed to stay there, in line with the Election Commission’s decision.
Clear sign for new coalition government
7 th of January
It is now clear that Spain will have a coalition government between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos, the first in the country since 1939. This is after a second vote of confidencein Parliament’s lower house of Congress, when 167 members voted for Pedro Sánchez as prime minister and 165 voted against. 18 members of Catalonia’s Republican Left (ERC) and the Basque EH Bildu cast their votes). In addition to the two government parties, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), Más País (More for the country), and several smaller regional parties vote for Sánchez as prime minister. The parties that are voting against are the People’s Party (PP), Ciudadanos (Citizens), Vox, JuntsxCat (Together for Catalonia), Folk unity (Cup) and a few other small parties. In connection with the vote, the PP leader, among other things, targets harsh attacks against Sánchez, who accuses him of being an “extremist” and “liar” who has “surrendered his constitutional duties”.
Sánchez loses confidence vote
Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez loses, as expected, the first vote in parliament’s House of Commons, Congress. 166 members vote for him to be elected Spanish Prime Minister, 165 against and 18 abstentions. To win, at least 176 votes are required. A new vote of confidence on Sánchez will be held on January 7, when he just needs a simple majority to win.
Quim Torra is deprived of a seat in Catalonia’s regional parliament
The Spanish electoral authority decides to remove Quim Torra from his seat in the Catalan regional parliament. This means that he cannot remain as Catalonia’s regional president. The decision comes after the Supreme Court of Catalonia at the end of last year convicted him of failing to comply with an order from the Spanish Electoral Council to remove separatist symbols from public buildings in Catalonia. Torra announces the day after he intends to appeal the decision to the Spanish Supreme Court.
Belgian court dismisses arrest warrant against Puigdemont
A Belgian court ordered the arrest warrant issued by Spain against former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont and Catalonia’s former health minister Toni Comin. Both politicians were elected to the European Parliament in May 2019 and receive immunity from prosecution, according to a ruling in the European Court of Justice. This can only be lifted if Spain requests that it be done and that it is approved by the European Parliament. Puigdemont was Catalonia’s regional president from January 2016 to October 2017, when he helped organize a referendum on Catalan independence, despite the Spanish authorities. Since then, Puigdemont has found himself in self-imposed exile in Belgium.
ERC releases Sánchez in exchange for talks on Catalonia
The Catalan left-wing party ERC will cast its votes in a vote of confidencein the Spanish parliament’s lower house, the Congress, next week. It could pave the way for Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez to be elected Prime Minister of Spain. In exchange, the party should have received a pledge of talks between the government and the ERC about the future of Catalonia and the political situation in the region. These should start 15 days after the government’s entry. The residents of Catalonia should then be able to say everything about any agreements concluded during the deliberations. The message from the ERC comes after the party’s national council with a clear majority vote for the settlement with the PSOE (200 votes for, 3 against). The Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos have already agreed to form a coalition government, but support from some small Basque parties is also needed. If this is not the case, there is a great risk that there will be a new election in Spain.