The refusal of the progressive members to resign en bloc sentences the renewal of the Judiciary
The possibility of an en bloc resignation of the progressive members of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) vanishes. And, with this, so does the expectation of a renewal of the body that should have taken place more than four years ago and that has not been possible due to the blockade of the Popular Party. The eight directors elected at the time at the proposal of the PSOE, IU and PNV have met this Tuesday to address the consequences of a possible collective resignation and the main conclusion of that appointment is that there is no unanimity in the group on the convenience of taking now carry out this movement, confirm several of the attendees to elDiario.es. The majority thesis is that a group resignation would not force renewal.
The progressive member Concepción Sáez resigns due to the “unsustainable” situation of the Judiciary
The only member who, up to now, has taken firm steps towards her resignation is Concepción Sáez, elected at the proposal of IU. In fact, the publication of the letter in which she included her desire to leave given the “untenable” situation of the institution reopened the debate on her permanence in the organ of the rest of the members. It was then that another progressive counselor, Álvaro Cuesta, put the idea of a block resignation on the table and asked President Rafael Mozo to bring the entire group together to address “the situation of the CGPJ and the possible resignation of the members.” He did it without consulting the rest of the members of the progressive wing, something that some of his colleagues have criticized him at the meeting this Tuesday. A meeting in which he has not revealed if he will finally present his resignation, according to the sources consulted.
The thesis that Cuesta has exposed is that the departure of eight members would render the body useless due to the absence of a quorum to make decisions. And, in this way, the need for its renewal would be evident. The law of the Judiciary requires “the presence of ten members and the president” so that the plenary session can be validly constituted. Currently, the body 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 progressive sector. According to this article, in the event of the en bloc resignation of the eight progressives, the plenary session could not be validly formed.
But this is a possibility that had been fading in recent days and that has been revealed as impossible after the meeting on Tuesday. In a meeting held on Friday attended by part of the group, the members already agreed that the resignations, if they occur, would be “individual and not collective.” This latest meeting has made it clear that among the progressives the majority thesis is that a group resignation would not force renewal at a complex political moment, with several electoral appointments ahead. This is what the other five advisers proposed by the PSOE have maintained —Roser Bach, Mar Cabrejas, Clara Martínez de Careaga, Rafael Mozo and Pilar Sepúlveda— and the member elected at the initiative of the PNV —Enrique Lucas—.
The truth is that after the resignation of Lesmes there was a rapid resumption of negotiations between the PSOE and the PP. But Alberto Núñez Feijóo blew up all the bridges when the agreement was imminent with the excuse of reforming the crime of sedition. Since then there has been no progress. And last week Pedro Sánchez himself admitted from Brussels that he considers the renewal in this legislature as lost. The PP, for its part, seems willing to maintain a blockade in the expectation of a hypothetical electoral victory in the generals that will allow it to negotiate another composition with a conservative majority. It’s not the first time either. The conservatives already blocked the renewal of the CGPJ in 1995 and 2006 to prolong a majority that they had lost at the polls.
Squeeze the skills
Faced with this scenario, the most reticent members of the party argue that their hypothetical resignations would be unfavorable for the judicial left. They maintain that it would mean leaving the management of the CGPJ in the hands of the conservatives, even though its powers are now very limited as a result of its interim situation. In addition, the permanent commission, which is the main body of power and which does not require a quorum to be set up, would continue to function. These councilors defend that the members elected at the proposal of the PP would not miss the opportunity to make the most of the powers that they could continue to exercise.
They recall, in this sense, that some members of the majority group defend that there is a legal basis for the CGPJ to “complete” the appointments that were in process when the rule that regulates the interim status of the body came into force. It is a path that has not yet been explored. Although there are members who believe that this option could be reactivated and that, if it happens, the progressives must be in the CGPJ to face it.
Some members also speculate with the idea that the organ could be maintained in function with the ten members of the conservative majority. And that, after a hypothetical victory of the PP in the general elections, a legal change was approved to recover the appointments in the judicial leadership and that these were carried out choosing judges from their ideological orbit.
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 interim CGPJ. 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 —Martínez de Careaga, Mozo, Sepúlveda and Sáez herself— and it never materialized into a concrete initiative.
Now, the only member who has formally taken the step is Sáez, who on March 13 sent a letter to the president presenting his resignation. In that letter, he describes as “useless” his continuity in what he considers a scenario of “radical and perhaps already irreversible degradation of the institution.” And he 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”. Sáez maintains his willingness to leave and is already preparing his farewell for next Thursday’s plenary session.