The resignation of the member Concepción Sáez due to the “unsustainable” situation of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) has revived the option of an en bloc resignation of the minority progressive sector of the governing body of judges. The eight members elected at the time at the proposal of the PSOE, IU and PNV are called to a meeting this Friday to discuss the situation of the institution —which has had its mandate expired since December 2018— and its possible resignation, as confirmed by sources from the organ to elDiario.es.
A group of conservative members is consolidated as an extension of the PP in the Judiciary
The meeting has been convened by the president, Rafael Mozo, at the proposal of the vocal Álvaro Cuesta, who considers that the presence of the progressives in the body “is evident” after the resignation of president Carlos Lesmes, which took place last October, and the recent letter of resignation of Sáez, known this Wednesday. It is expected that at least five of the members will attend. The rest will not do so due to scheduling problems, according to the sources consulted. Predictably they will hold another meeting next week.
“Our obligation, in view of the circumstances, is to open the debate on the situation of the CGPJ and the possible resignation of the members (…). If at least eight of us leave, the Plenary will no longer be validly constituted. I propose to address and confront this issue in a coordinated manner,” says Cuesta, in a message sent this Thursday to the rest of the progressives.
Article 600.4 of the Law on the Judiciary requires that for the valid constitution of the plenary session “the presence of at least ten members and the president will always be necessary.” Currently, the governing body of the judges is made up of ten members elected at the proposal of the PP, six from the PSOE, one from the IU —which has already announced her resignation— and another from the PNV, which is usually located in the sector progressive. According to this article, in the event of the en bloc resignation of the eight progressives, the plenary session could not be validly formed. Cuesta, who was a PSOE deputy between 1982 and 2011, believes that this matter should also be discussed in the regular plenary session to be held next Thursday.
The mandate of the CGPJ expired in December 2018 and maintains a correlation of forces with a conservative majority that does not respond to the current parliamentary reality. These movements of the progressive sector seek to force a renewal that the Popular Party has prevented in the last four years with a battery of changing excuses. Members of this sector defend a “coordinated action” and maintain that the “trickle” of resignations could end up benefiting the conservative sector, which would increase its majority in the body because the positions left free by possible resignations cannot be filled when they are in office. body with its mandate expired.
It is a majority that, in any case, has few practical effects due to the limitation of powers to which the body is subject due to its interim situation. Mainly, its essential function of making appointments in the judicial leadership, which has led to a threat of collapse in the Supreme Court because vacancies cannot be filled. The body is dedicated to dispatching pending administrative issues and preparing some reports on laws that are still pending.
However, some members of the conservative sector do not give up using the speaker that gives them their membership in the highest institution of the third power of the State to try to wear down the Government. They have done so, for example, with regard to the controversial reductions in sentences for sexual offenders after the entry into force of the ‘only yes is yes’ law.
Members of the vocal sector elected at the proposal of the PP frame Sáez’s resignation in the context of an “individual” decision and reject the possibility of there being block resignations in their group. In fact, voices from this bloc maintain that a bloc resignation could even lead to the commission of the crime of collective abandonment of the service. It is the same type of crime for which 131 air traffic controllers were sentenced for the case of the closure of airspace in December 2010.
The precedent of 2020
The possibility that the members would resign to force the renewal was addressed without success in a plenary session held in December 2020, in full anger with the parties that support the Government regarding the reform that ended up removing powers from the CGPJ when it is in office.
Then, Cuesta raised a resolution proposal for all its members to announce their “resignation” as of January 1, when two years had passed since the mandate expired. That initiative, however, was only supported by four other members of the progressive sector —Clara Martínez de Careaga, Rafael Mozo, Pilar Sepúlveda and Sáez herself— and it never materialized into a concrete initiative.
Now, the first to take the step has been the vocal Sáez, who on March 13 sent a letter to the president presenting her resignation. In that letter, she describes as “useless” her continuity in what she considers a scenario of “radical and perhaps already irreversible degradation of the institution.” And she explains that the “inability to make certain decisions in the ordinary exercise of powers” of the body “while calling for the recovery of improper powers of a Council in office” [en alusión a la pretensión de algunos vocales de pedir la derogación de la ley que le impide nombrar jueces] they have ended up exhausting their “patience”.
The CGPJ reported in a statement on Wednesday night that Mozo “is considering the acceptance of the resignation” as established by the Judiciary Law, which details that the members will leave their posts “due to the accepted resignation” of the president.