The states of alarm, exception and siege can be proclaimed in Spain under extraordinary circumstances that make it impossible «the maintenance of normality through the ordinary powers of the competent authorities», as contemplated in Organic Law 4/1981, of June 1, of the states of alarm, exception and siege. Here all competencies and limitations are collected, but they are also contemplated in article 116 of the Spanish Constitution. To date, and since March 14, Spain is in a state of alarm «in order to face the health emergency situation caused by the coronavirus COVID-19», as announced by the country’s president, Pedro Sanchez.
The question that citizens are now asking is if this state is going to continue for more than the initial fifteen days that the legislation contemplates, or if it is going to be prolonged. In addition, there is the question of whether any of the other two types of exceptional states can be established. What do they have in common and what sets them apart?
All three states have a number of common provisions. The three can be declared low when extraordinary circumstances make it impossible to maintain normality through the ordinary powers of the competent authorities. The measures as well as their duration must be essential to ensure a return to normality and must be established in a manner proportionate to events. Once their validity has expired, these will cease to be valid, except for the firm sanctions that have been produced. His statement also does not interrupt the normal functioning of the constitutional powers of the State.
It must be published in the Official State Gazette, and the measures and provisions that imply must be disseminated by all public and private media that are determined. The third article of the regulations also indicates that “those who, as a consequence of the application of the acts and provisions adopted during the validity of these states, suffer, directly, or in their person, rights or property, damages or losses due to acts that are not attributable to them, will have the right to be compensated in accordance with the provisions of the law. «
The alarm state
The state of alarm can be proclaimed in all or part of the national territory, when some of the following serious alterations to normality occur.
- Disasters, calamities or public misfortunes: earthquakes, floods, urban and forest fires or major accidents.
- Health crises: epidemics and serious contamination situations.
- Cessation of essential public services for the community, when the provisions of articles 28.2 (right to strike) and 37.2 (private conflicts between workers and employers) of the Constitution are not guaranteed.
- Shortage situations of basic necessities.
The maximum duration is fifteen days, but if you want to extend it is necessary that it is approved in the Congress of Deputies.
The state of exception must be declared through a decree agreed by the Council of Ministers, previously authorized by the Congress of Deputies. For this, the Government has to send you an authorization request with a series of elements:
- Determination of the effects of the state of exception. The rights whose suspension is requested must be mentioned, and which can only be those mentioned in section one of article 55 of the Constitution.
- A list of the measures to be adopted regarding those rights that are going to be suspended.
- The duration, which cannot exceed 30 days, and the territorial scope that it will affect, must also be indicated. Later, if you want to extend it, this extension must be requested from Congress.
- The maximum amount of financial penalties that it will be imposed on all those who contravene the provisions established during this situation.
Congress has to debate whether or not to approve the request as it has been received by the Government Team, or if it is desired introduce modifications.
The state of siege is a decision to be taken in the Congress of Deputies by an absolute majority, at the exclusive proposal of the Government. The declaration must specify the territorial scope, duration and conditions of the state of siege.
This measure can be adopted when there is a serious or threatening situation in the country that leads to an insurrection, or act of force against the sovereignty or independence of Spain, and that is impossible to be solved by other means.
It allows depriving of the same rights as in the state of alarm and exception, and incorporates article 17.3 of the Constitution, which refers to information on the rights of detainees, the reasons for their detention, and so on.
About the Armed Forces
As for the specific interventions of the Armed Forces, nothing is foreseen in this regard in the states of alarm and emergency. This does not mean that such circumstances may also influence the Military Administration.
In these cases, since the Government is the one who directs military and defense policy, it can assume all the extraordinary powers provided for in the Constitution and in the Organic Law of States of Alarm, Exception and Siege. For this reason, he may designate the military authority that, under his direction, has to execute the necessary measures.