Friday, February 3

The president of the Judiciary refuses to convene the plenary to renew the Constitutional until the conservatives reveal their candidates

The acting president of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Rafael Mozo, has refused to convene the extraordinary plenary session requested by nine conservative members to circumvent the government reform on the renewal of the Constitutional Court, the governing body of the judges.

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In a communication addressed to the members, the president argues that the request of these directors, as formulated, “cannot be met” because the regulations of the body, in addition to the “written” request of at least five members, “requires the contribution of all documents, if any, related to the agenda of the plenary session”. And he adds that the petition also does not comply with the “rules of procedure” that the plenary session itself issued last September and which establish that the request to call a plenary session to make these appointments must include the names of two candidates and their CVs.

The letter presented last Friday by the councilors elected at the proposal of the PP who have been blocking the relief in the guarantee court for three months did not include the names of any applicant. It limited itself to urging the “urgent” convening of a plenary session with a single point on the agenda: the “appointments of magistrates of the Constitutional Court”. In fact, in three months of frustrated negotiations, the conservatives have not even put the names of the candidates on the table, while they are questioning the magistrate chosen by the progressives, Supreme Court judge José Manuel Bandrés.

This request came after it was made public that the parties that support the Government are promoting a legal change —advanced by— to modify the three-fifths majority that the CGPJ must add in the election of the two Constitutional magistrates that correspond to it. When it enters into force, which is expected before the end of the year, a simple majority will suffice.

With this reform, the Executive intends to deactivate the strategy of the hard core of members elected at the proposal of the PP that until now has imposed its blocking minority to hinder these appointments. This boycott is prolonging the conservative majority in the body that will have to rule on issues as sensitive as educational reform, abortion or euthanasia.

With this request, the conservatives intended to force a plenary session to be held before the reform promoted by the Executive came into force. However, the holding of this extraordinary session did not imply that the appointments would go ahead, since both blocks currently maintain conflicting positions on these appointments that, according to the current law, must reconcile the support of at least 11 of the 18 members of the plenary session. . They need, therefore, the contest of vocals from both sectors of the organ, now made up of 10 conservatives and eight progressives.

Sources from both sectors acknowledged in recent days that there was “no guarantee” that any candidate could gather the support of the qualified majority required by current law. But the argument of the conservatives to force that extraordinary session is that the reform “violates” the constitutional precept that says that the CGPJ has to choose two candidates by providing that each member can only choose one candidate. And that his objective with this plenary session is to “show” who his two candidates are. Some names that, for the moment, continue without revealing.

The legal change of the Government contemplates that the two magistrates who obtain the greatest number of votes are elected and that each member can only vote for one candidate. The conservatives consider that this system will guarantee that the preferred candidates of each block are elected. And that, consequently, the progressives would see their objective of taking José Manuel Bandrés to the Constitutional Court, whom they consider “the candidate of the Government.”

Sources from the progressive group support the decision of Mozo, who was elected as a member of the organ at the proposal of the PSOE. Last October he was appointed substitute president after the resignation of Carlos Lesmes as he was the oldest member. The vote went ahead with a large majority: 16 votes in favor and only one against, that of the conservative vocal Wenceslao Olea. The progressive member Mar Cabrejas was absent during the debate and voting on this point.

Members of the minority group defend that Mozo should convene the plenary session when the law is modified, since they consider that “it does not eliminate the object of the matter” and, in addition, it gives some guidelines on the procedure to follow in these votes that until now was not embodied in no legal text. “It would be the most loyal from the institutional point of view,” consider these same sources, who recall that Lesmes himself parked discretionary appointments to senior positions when there were conversations between the parties to renew the CGPJ.