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The blockade of conservatives brings the judiciary to a limit situation

The institutional crisis opened in the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) due to the interim situation almost four years ago is still intensifying. The threat of the imminent resignation of its president, Carlos Lesmes, was compounded this Wednesday by the implosion of negotiations over the main task now facing the judges’ governing body: renewing the Constitutional Court.

Three weeks later, with almost no progress and well past the September 13 statutory deadline, talks between the conservative and progressive sectors have exploded. The progressive bloc took a step back, deeming negotiations over and announcing it would explore “other alternative ways” to make appointments to the Court of Guarantees after verifying the lack of “prospects of agreement” with eight members of the conservative wing. There are architects of the blockade who used various methods to delay these appointments.

But accounts are not easy. Appointments to the Constitutional Court must be subject to the support of at least 12 of the 19 members of the CGPJ plenary session. They therefore need the help of members from both sectors of the body, which now consists of 10 conservatives, eight progressives and President Lesmes. Eight out of ten conservatives are in some sort of blocking minority. Any “alternative” way of agreement requires breaking through this bloc and attracting one of its members. Sources in the body confirm that Lesmes has been taking steps in this regard for several days, but nothing is closed.

The move by the progressive bloc came after the third meeting between the two groups ended without progress. An appointment in which the members elected on the proposal of the PP once again justified the absence of like-minded candidates: they said that the “intense search” of profiles for the selection of the Court of Guarantees was “unsuccessful”. far away In recent weeks, the progressive minority has tried to disarm the argument of the absence of candidates by naming up to nine magistrates who have passed their wish to be elected to the Constitutional Court. Although they have not yet revealed the final magistrate, they told the second group that they are “in a position” to determine what the name is.

Behind the strategy to block the renewal of the Constitutional Court are eight members who are part of the hard core of the conservative sector and who seem ready to prevent the loss of the right majority in a court as topical as the Constitutional Court. It is the body responsible for the interpretation of the fundamental norm of the state and which will have to make decisions on sensitive issues such as abortion, euthanasia or the reform that prevents the CGPJ from appointing judges with expired mandates, as was the case until March 2021.

Members of the group of eight vocal critics insist they will remain “tight-knit” and don’t believe a leak is likely. However, they confirm that there are members who are more prone than others to close agreements and that everything can depend on the names on the table. “The scene here changes every 10 minutes,” says a member. The same adviser claims that in informal talks held in recent days, the members of the second bloc expressed their desire to continue the negotiations for another week.

Sources in the group admit that the progressive sector movement, which they say they learned about in the press, got them off on the wrong foot. His intention was to repeatedly delay the appointment of constitutional magistrates, ignore the law, and now focus on the “mechanism” of Lesmes’ succession if he made good on his threat and resigned. In recent days, members of this sector have known privately that their priority is not to replace the Constitutional Court, but to find out who will lead the body if the president resigns, in order to force the renewal of the Court of Guarantee. The majority of conservative members disagreed with the report of the technical cabinet, which determined that his replacement at the head of the CGPJ and the Supreme Court should be Francisco Marin, the president of the oldest chamber of the Supreme Court.

In the progressive sector, they argue that the search for “alternative ways” to update the constitution was the only solution in the face of a series of “delayed excuses” from the conservative sector. “They have followed a blocking strategy regarding the renewal of the constitution, which mirrors what Genoa followed regarding the renewal of the CGPJ,” says a member of the group. Other sources believe that the situation is similar to the one at the beginning of September, when Lesmes tried to convince part of the conservative sector of the need for these appointments. So he couldn’t. “Perhaps it was not mature then, but it is clear that this is the last chance that the Constitutional Court will not collapse,” says another member.

The situation in the judiciary’s governing body is already complicated, but the crisis could reach even greater proportions if Lesmes follows through on the threat he made a month ago: either renew or resign. This Friday, after a meeting with European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, Lemmes reiterated his intention to leave immediately if the parties continue to commit to renewing the body “with no visible” which is approaching four years with the expiry of the mandate. .

The scenario of the blockade is due to the fact that the People’s Party, which has been resisting all this time, first with Casado and for almost half a year with Feijo, has lost power in one of the key institutions of the state. With this ultimatum, Lesmes threatens to force the renewal process, which has stalled, from within.

At the last plenary session, Lesmes told some members that he would not be in office after this week, because on September 7, in the ceremonial opening of the judicial year, he said that he would resign “within weeks, not months” if the renewal of the CGPJ was blocked. And these “weeks” will be fulfilled next Friday. However, his will has always been to put constitutionalist appointments on track before resigning. And some sources believe he could keep his job if he sees any opportunity in his announcement this Wednesday, with progressive members saying they will try to reach a deal “today, tomorrow and the day after,” that is, this week.

However, the plenary session did not take place at the end of this Wednesday, so it is not known when the four constitutional judges, whose mandate expired on June 12, and whose replacement corresponds to the judiciary (two) and the government (other. two), can be replaced. The executive has refused to appoint its own until the judiciary’s governing body does. So the main result of this blockade is that the Constitutional Court remains in office according to the current correlation of forces: six conservative magistrates (there were seven before one of them resigned due to illness in July) and five progressive ones.

The renewal is crucial because the conservative sector will lose its majority, as three of the four new magistrates would correspond to the progressive wing: two appointed by the executive, who will be of this ideological profile, and the other from the judiciary. Since democracy exists, the agreement is that the CGPJ will appoint a progressive magistrate and a conservative one to the Constitutional Court.

Source: El Diario





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