It is clear that the parties have taken over our institutions, and the judiciary is no exception. So much so that this control can be verified in the election of the highest governing body of judges, the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ). A political game that so far has allowed the two major parties to share a good part of the votes.
Keep in mind that for the appointment of the members of this body, the Constitution and the Organic Law of the Judicial Power require obtaining a majority of 3/5 of the parliament and, therefore, renewal is not possible if a pact is not achieved. between the ruling party and the main opposition party. Which now seems unlikely given the partisan struggle that both maintain, and that is causing the extension of the mandate of the members of the current CGPJ. Something, however, that is not new, since The previous CGPJ was in office for almost two years until the PP and the PSOE agreed to its renewal in November 2008.
The problem lies in the attempt by the majority forces to manage this body. Let us not forget that the CGPJ is an institution that does not exercise jurisdiction. But, nevertheless, he decides all the important appointments of the judicial career (the judges of the Supreme Court, the presidents of the Autonomous Superior Courts of Justice or of the Provincial Courts, the President of the National Court …) and usually has little to do with merit and ability. It is true that judges enter the judicial career through an opposition, but the main promotions respond to mainly political questions.
Most of the neighboring countries have a model that consists of the election of judges by the judges themselves
So this is the real problem. And it has led Spain to rank 25 out of 28 in the perception that citizens have of the independence of the judiciary, according to the 2018 European Union Justice Scoreboard.
In this sense, if we take a look at our neighbors, it can be seen, according to data from the European Commission, that most of the neighboring countries have opted for a model that consists of the election of judges by the judges themselves . This is the case in Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, France, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia or the United Kingdom).
Others also follow this system, although the election requires formal validation by parliament (Denmark, the Netherlands or Romania). Thus, only Poland and Spain maintain a model that is characterized by being highly politicized. It is true that some of these countries show higher indices of politicization of justice than Spain, as is the case of Hungary, Slovenia or Bulgaria. However, in the rest of the countries This model seems to work and better guarantee judicial autonomy than in our country.
Now the PP has taken advantage of the pronouncement of the European Commissioner of Justice, the socialist Didier Reynders, to condition the renewal of the CGPJ to a reform of the law so that the judges are the ones who elect the members of this body from the next renewal. It can be an excuse or ruse to buy time, the current composition favors him. But it is clear that it has not been the only voice that has been raised in this same line.
It would be desirable for those responsible for reaching a consensus on the renewal to abandon their partisan interests
Apart from the European Commission, different associations, judicial platforms and prominent jurists have been defending this position for years. However, it is true that, during the Government of Mariano Rajoy, there was a reform of the CGPJ that did not lead to the depoliticization of this institution. But it is also true that the PSOE is aware that the two large associations of judges, the Professional Association of the Magistracy and the Francisco Victoria Association, which represent 25% and 16%, respectively, of the judges, have a markedly conservative character. And, therefore, the implementation of a system like this could allow the PP to control the judiciary.
Meanwhile, Unidos Podemos is in favor of continuing with the line of the bill presented together with the PSOE in October 2020, through which the members of the CGPJ would be elected by an absolute majority of the Congress and Senate, knowing that This way, not only would the renewal be unblocked, but the governing coalition would control the CGPJ. Fact that, without a doubt, it would further increase the politicization of the judiciary.
It is clear that the Judiciary needs a profound reform that not only affects the selection of judges, but now this fact is of vital importance. It would be desirable for the political leaders in charge of reaching a consensus on the renewal of the CGPJ to abandon their partisan interests and think about the proper development of the institution, thus putting aside this democratic fraud and the constant insult to our Constitution.
*** Gema Sánchez Medero has a doctorate in Political Science and Administration from the Complutense University of Madrid.
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