From The Lack Of Independence To The Veto Of Government Candidates

It has been more than two and a half years since the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) had to have renewed its composition. The mandate of four of the twelve members of the Constitutional Court expired in November 2019 and the Ombudsman has been in a temporary position with Francisco Fernández Marugán in office since Soledad Becerril’s mandate expired in 2017 .

On July 21, the mandate of the Court of Accounts ends and everything indicates that, like the rest of the constitutional bodies, it will not be renewed – at least in the short term – due to the discrepancies between the PSOE and the PP, and especially , for the castling of the popular.

The Court of Auditors, in addition, is in the spotlight after its investigation of the procés leaders, to whom it announced last Tuesday that they will have to pay 5.4 million euros for the international promotion of independence.

The Government has been demanding its renewal from the opposition leader for several days, but the PP refuses to do so precisely now, arguing that several government ministers have suggested that the independence leaders be forgiven the debt to favor dialogue. After the approval of the pardons, party sources say, “they have been in a hurry.”

The Government demands that the PP renew the Court of Accounts in full controversy over the fines to the leaders of the procés
And it is that the popular fear that if this body is renewed, a change in the majority will facilitate that “stonework” referred to by the head of Transportation, José Luis Ábalos , an expression, that of “putting stones on the road”, which Pablo Casado came to compare Wednesday in the plenary session of Congress with “sending a horse’s head to the bed of each counselor” to denounce the alleged pressure from the Government .

The PP is only willing to renew the constitutional bodies if it is, he says, to “reinforce its independence”, something that it does not see possible at this time. However, the circumstance of the counselor of the Court of Accounts in charge of issuing a judgment for accounting responsibility against the 40 exalted positions of the Generalitat of Catalonia is Margarita Mariscal de Gante, Minister of Justice of the first Government of José María Aznar , something that the President of the Government himself recalled Casado to question the supposed depoliticization that the popular ones seek.

Another of the bodies that awaits its turn is the Ombudsman, a position for which the name of Ángel Gabilondo was being considered at the beginning of the year and which involved his replacement at the head of the Madrid PSOE.

Before the elections, the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, even said that if it depended on her, “Gabilondo would not be an Ombudsman, he will definitely go home. Finally he returned to be the socialist candidate in the 4-M elections and the Ombudsman has not come out of the interim.

However, the CGPJ is the body that has been blocked for the longest time and on all occasions due to the sit-in of the popular , who have risen from the table up to three times, something that the President of the Government came to reproach this Wednesday in his intervention stating that the PP “violates the Constitution every day.”

First blockade: the leak of Marchena to preside over the CGPJ
The first time an attempt was made to renew was in 2018. A week after Pablo Casado was elected leader of the PP, he held a meeting with President Sánchez in which they addressed this matter. “We were determined to do so if judicial independence was reinforced and if the direct election of the Council by judges and magistrates was advanced,” Casado explained last Monday at the opening of a convention prior to the national one to be held in the fall.

However, the agreement was blown up after leaking a message from Ignacio Cosidó in which he boasted that the agreement reached would allow the PP to continue controlling this body with the proposed candidate, Manuel Marchena , the judge of the procés. A leak that Casado links to the then Minister of Justice, the socialist Dolores Delgado, and that caused the resignation of the magistrate to preside over the CGPJ. “We said that they did not count on us for this circus,” defended Casado.

From then until mid-2020 there was hardly any news about the possible renewal, although the PP leader defends that ” for a year and a half no one blocked, the electoral process and the health process were blocked”, in relation to the two electoral calls of 2019 , the Government that remained in office for months and the subsequent pandemic.

Second blockade: the veto of Pablo Iglesias in the negotiation
The second time the renewal was approached was in September of last year, with a coalition government. This was the main obstacle for the PP, the presence of Pablo Iglesias in the negotiation . Iglesias “is in a petition to change the constitutional regime, they have asked that the king abdicate and that there be a referendum on the monarchy , and that’s how we started very badly,” the popular leader justified.

Last Monday, Casado reaffirmed that Iglesias was the problem and accused Sánchez of hiding “for a month” that the then vice president was part of the negotiation while “what the Constitution says is that the Judicial and Legislative Power are those who will proceed with the appointment of the Council. The only power that has nothing to do is the Executive. “

In this sense, he went back to a few words from the then vice president in which, after the departure of the emeritus king of the country, he assured that “the organ of the judges was going to be changed to respond to the Government of change”, in the words of Casado about Iglesias.

“At that moment we got up from the table. We do not want to change any body to change any government of change, much less headed by Pedro Sánchez and vice-presided over by someone like Pablo Iglesias,” argued the popular leader.

Third blockade: the veto of Judge De Prada and Victoria Rosell
The third time that the Government and PP negotiated the renewal of the CGPJ was last February. Then five requirements were agreed in a draft that Casado himself listed on Monday: the impartiality of the Prosecutor’s Office; that ex-politicians should not enter the quota of jurists elected by the Cortes Generales; that jurists did not enter for the quota of judges or judges for the quota of jurists; that all the decisions of the CGPJ be approved by a reinforced three-fifths majority to end the conservative and progressive bloc; and that 12 members of the 20 total were chosen by the judges themselves.

However, on this occasion the popular ones rose from the table again after the Government’s proposal to include Judge José Ricardo de Prada, magistrate of the Gürtel case, and Judge Victoria Rosell, delegate of the Government against Gender Violence proposed by Podemos . The PP leader justified these vetoes by denying that they had “no problem with his past life” but by arguing that “Judge De Prada wanted to enter as a jurist and Judge Rosell was a practicing politician.”

The PP, Casado insisted on Monday, “has not blocked anything. We will renew tomorrow if they want to reinforce the independence of these bodies.” According to the popular leader, “if the PSOE continues without renewing the CGPJ it is because it wants to.”

For its part, the Government insists on the need to renew the constitutional bodies so that they respond to the current parliamentary majority, and accuses the popular of preventing compliance with the Constitution with their attitude . “An undemocratic attitude and not complying with the constitutional mandate by boycotting the renovation is not acceptable,” said the spokeswoman for the Executive, María Jesús Montero, last Tuesday.

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