The president of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) has urged in his speech at the solemn act of Opening of the Judicial Year to end the “abnormal situation” in which the governing body of judges finds itself, which last week he spent a thousand days in office. Carlos Lesmes has called on “the political forces concerned” to end the “partisan struggle” and to agree in the coming weeks on the “necessary” agreement for renewal.
One thousand days of blockade in the Judicial Power by decision of the PP
“A duty that arises from the Constitution cannot be subordinated to reasons of political opportunity,” said the also president of the Supreme Court, who has discharged responsibility in the Government and in the PP – whom he has asked for “constitutional patriotism” and “Generosity” – and has not alluded to the possibility of submitting his resignation. It is the fourth time that Lesmes refers in this speech to the renewal of the governing body of judges, whose interim status dates back to December 2018. “There is no better way to defend the Constitution than by ensuring its compliance,” he said. before King Felipe VI, the State Attorney General, the Minister of Justice and the Supreme Government Chamber.
The blockade on the renewal of the CGPJ has been maintained since 2018 due to the electoral repetition of 2019 and the lack of political agreement for the renewal of its twenty members, which has to be agreed by a three-fifths majority of the members of the Cortes Generales. . During all this time, the Popular Party has resisted losing its power in one of the key institutions of the State, which decides which judges rise to the highest positions in the judiciary. The current governing body of the judges has eleven members elected at the proposal of the PP, seven from the PSOE, one from the IU and another from the PNV. At the forefront is Lesmes, who was a senior position in the governments of José María Aznar.
In recent months, the conservatives have deployed a whole battery of changing conditions to agree to the renewal, ranging from vetoing the presence of United We Can in the negotiations to re-typifying the crime of referendum or reforming the euro order. They have also used as an excuse EH Bildu’s yes to the 2021 Budgets or the position of the minority partner of the Government against the monarchy. More recently they have demanded a change in the system of election of the members so that the twelve of judicial extraction are selected directly by their companions —as was the case until 1985—, a reform that the PP did not promote during its two absolute majorities. At present the judges make a screening of fifty names, and then the parties choose, as long as they reach that majority in the Chambers.
During his speech, Lesmes also charged against the reform that prevents the CGPJ from making key appointments to the judicial leadership with the extended mandate. Until the approval of that rule, he had made 74 appointments in the main courts, 21 of them in the Supreme Court, where they are considered especially sensitive because those positions, except for resignation, are maintained until retirement, set for judges and magistrates at 72 years of age. That rule, promoted by PSOE and United We Can, which had broad parliamentary support. In the opinion of the president of the CGPJ, this rule “has aggravated” the situation of the CGPJ. “The situation in which we find ourselves is unsustainable for the Judiciary,” said Lesmes, who assured that only in the Supreme Court there are eleven unfilled vacancies from a plant of 79 magistrates.
This issue has been one of the points of confrontation with the Executive, where they have always considered that the expired CGPJ should have been limited to deciding on management issues. Tension with the parties that support the coalition government increased as a result of the urgency with which both processed this initiative. The CGPJ, with the backing of 16 of its 21 members, accused the PSOE and United We Can of breaking the “separation of powers” by expressly taking away powers and both parties – through the Congressional Board, where they have a majority – answered asking for “respect” for their ability to legislate. This Monday, Lesmes has reproached the Chamber for neglecting “all” the requests made by the CGPJ to rule on this initiative.
In his speech, the president of the CGPJ has also referred to the pardons granted by the Government to the leaders of the procés and the fact that the executive has justified the measure of grace because it constitutes “harmony in the face of resentment.” Lesmes has assured that “nothing could be further from reality” and that “justice is not, nor has it ever been, an obstacle to peace, but rather the fundamental instrument to safeguard the legal order and, therefore, peaceful coexistence between the citizens “. With this criticism of the political justification of the pardons, he has wanted to praise, he said, “the work of the Spanish judges, and especially the Supreme Court, for their defense of the constitutional order and of our democracy, guaranteeing the supremacy of the laws and its fulfillment “.