By trying to hastily reform the way appointments are made to Spain’s judicial regulatory body, the General Council of the Judiciary (Consejo General del Poder Judicial, CGPJ), Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Communist coalition partner Pablo Iglesias, leader of Unidas Podemos, are planning a serious political attack on the country’s separation of powers.
According to Article 122 of the Spanish Constitution approved in 1978, the CGPJ decides the nominations of all relevant judges as well as those at the Supreme Court, the only legal institution that can indict ministers and the Prime Minister himself.
The CGPJ consists of 20 members: 12 judges and magistrates as well as eight prestigious lawyers and jurists, who each serve for five years.
Originally, only the latter eight were supposed to be selected by the Congress of Deputies and the Senate on a basis of parity by a respective three-fifths vote (210 legislators and 150 senators). The remaining 12 would be chosen by other legal professionals.
But on March 4th, 1985 the ruling Socialists changed the law. Suddenly, all 20 posts would be decided by both houses of the legislative branch. Amazingly enough, this clear politicization of the whole process was approved by the Constitutional Court on July 29th, 1986 and no following government ever tried to reverse this problematic situation.
The envisioned amendment implies that just 176 legislators and 133 senators, representing a simple parliamentary majority, could do the job. No consensus with the opposition would be needed anymore.
Obviously, the timing isn’t coincidental. There are three nominations pending for the Supreme Court’s Second Chamber, which is in charge of corruption and would also deal with possible causes related to Spain’s catastrophic handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
A judge at the High Court, Manuel García-Castellón, who had been investigating what is known as the “Dina” case, on October 6th, 2020 called to investigate Iglesias.
The leftist politician on January 20th, 2016 received confidential information about his party’s finances stored on the memory card of a cellphone stolen from his female comrade Dina Bousselham on November 1st, 2015.
When Iglesias finally returned the chip, which also contained some sensitive personal files, it was no longer operative and had been tampered with. He is therefore suspected of disclosure of secrets and computer-related crimes.
If this move succeeds, the current rulers would be in a better position to do more little favors to those forces whose support they desperately need to stay in power. These include Catalonian separatists, some in prison or on the run, as well as the heirs of the Basque terrorist organization ETA.
Disguised as democratic at the service of the common good, subtle but not less dangerous tyranny comes along as apparent legality. In fact, even more control and privileges would mean a big relief for the cast that is destroying Spain at full speed.
In the short range, this pitiful trick could mean a death blow to democracy, already considerably weakened by an Orwellian Ministry of Equality and the announced Law of Democratic Memory.
It’s quite ironic that on April 28th, 2020 the Spanish Ministry of Justice had given to Brussels official guarantees of maintaining what was left of judicial independence.
The European Commission became very skeptical and on October 16th warned Spain against its sinister plan. Though why would a notorious liar like Sánchez care about another broken promise?