The fifth anniversary of the blockade of General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) has not caused rapprochements between PP and PSOE to its renewal. However, the words of the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynderswhich placed the renewal of the governing body of the judges as the really priority issue, which must be followed by a new law to elect members, could have effects. The public appearance of the community representative, on Monday afternoon in Brussels together with Minister Félix Bolaños in Brussels, leaves no room for doubt. And it is the same position that he has been defending for months amidst severe warnings: the two majority parties must promote an update of the Council and, then, advance greater judicial independence as the EU demands so that judges can be directly elected by judges.
Alberto Núñez Feijóo had been taking the position for some time that he would not renew the CGPJ without a new election system. That is to say: with the new organic law in hand the agreement would proceed, and not before. In this case, the order of the factors becomes essential. And, although this Monday morning, the PP spokesperson, Borja Sémper, reiterated that position, sources close to Feijóo qualified this to this newspaper late in the afternoon. Reynders had already appeared. “It is worth renewing with the current system, but we will not do anything if there is not a new law that modifies the election system at the same time. It must be simultaneous. It can be the same day, but not after“, they explain.
The loop has been intense in recent times around the issue of the CGPJ, but the translation does not admit of doubt either: the popular ones would sit down to renew the body of judges abiding by the current rules, but in return they need approval a new standard for future renewals. It would not apply to this first agreement with Pedro Sánchez, but it would apply to future ones. That is the commitment that the PP needs to make. And they insist: “We no longer trust this Government. It is not a guarantee. It is that there is a new law.”
The members of the CGPJ have completed ten years in office this weekend, when in reality they should have been in office for only five. The situation of the governing body of the judges is critical and also that of Justice. But the popular ones understand that with the amnesty law agreed between PSOE and the independentists (this Tuesday the process begins with the qualification of the Congress Board) their position “is reinforced.”
The new law, the story that the PP needs
The PP’s position, until now exhaustive, responds to different keys. The essential thing is the situation in which Spanish politics finds itself and the “institutional collapse” which Feijóo’s party has been warning about in recent weeks. “Changing course now would be incomprehensible.”. “More than ever we need an independent Justice,” they say in the PP. To the amnesty, the assumption of the existence of the ‘lawfare’ on the part of the Government that has outraged all judicial sectors or the recent setbacks due to the appointments at the head of the Attorney General’s Office or the Council of State, is added to the forceful and tough opposition that Feijóo has inaugurated after the investiture of Pedro Sánchez.
And that opposition, in the Cortes Generales and on the streets (this Sunday the PP once again had a massive call in Madrid), reflects on the national leadership, “it is incompatible with giving up our demand”. Sémper summarized it graphically after the steering committee of his party this Monday. “If Junts with seven votes has made an a la carte amnesty, why can’t the PP, with 137 seats and having won the elections, claim that the CGPJ election responds to what we believe and also what the European Union believes?&rdquor ;, the spokesperson asked.
The reform proposed by the conservatives implies that 12 of the 20 members that make up the Council are elected directly by the judges themselves. The current law establishes that Congress and Senate respectively choose ten (six of each package must be judges and the other four, jurists of recognized prestige). Without a PP-PSOE agreement it is impossible to renew the Council because 210 seats are needed, a reinforced majority.
There were two moments in which the negotiation was about to end well. He got frustrated both times.. The most recent, already with Feijóo at the head of the PP, was in October 2022, last year. The conversations had been going on for months and the conservatives had become open to a renewal prior to the modification of the organic law. Then they gave themselves a limited period of time (six months) for the legislative change. But the reform of Penal Code agreed between the Government and ERC to erase sedition (the embezzlement would come later, but at that time the PP did not know it) blew up the bridges.
The PP then decided to completely freeze the negotiation because they understood “an unacceptable deception” be agreeing on a new Council and a law that would advance judicial independence and, at the same time, agree with the independentistas on the elimination of the key crime in the process.
This Monday afternoon, from Brussels, Bolaños referred to those conversations from just over a year ago in which it seemed that there would be an agreement with the PP. “We reached an agreement with the Popular Party both on the names of the 20 regular members, the 12 substitutes and even on a bill to reinforce the independence of our justice. And that agreement was not reached due to lack of leadership of the Popular Party. Mr. Feijóo,” said the minister at the press conference in the presence of Reynders. “It could not withstand the pressure of the most ultra elements of his party and (…) with the agreement already made, it finally fell apart,” he concluded.
In Genoa they have always denied this point, insisting that the key was to bring to light the agreement with the independentists on the Penal Code at the same time that they were going to renew the CGPJ. Shortly after, on Constitution Day, Sánchez did not rule out also modifying the crime of embezzlement as required by ERC. It ended up happening too.
Months after that and with a new notice from the European Union on the table, Feijóo was clear with the position (which Sémper confirmed): “I am in favor of an immediate reform of the organic law of the judiciary and, based on “that reform, immediately renew and update the CGPJ.” The Genoa turnaround came on Monday afternoon. Opening up to a renewal with the current system as long as there is a new law for subsequent ones is a change with respect to what Feijóo had been defending. And that his national spokesperson recalled again in the morning. The only thing that happened after was the new message from the EU.