Left vs. right in the renewal of the CGPJ: the PP has always blocked when it is in opposition

When the PSOE is in the opposition it does not act in the same way as when the PP is. It is a message that is transferred frequently both from Moncloa and from Ferraz. They refer to matters such as Catalonia, recalling how the Socialists closed ranks with the decisions of Mariano Rajoy, and, especially, compliance with the Spanish Constitution with the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ). History tells us that the popular have always delayed these types of decisions over time.

It had never gone as far as during this legislature. The highest body of the judiciary has already expired for four years in an unprecedented situation that has greatly tightened the rope between both parties. The PP, both with Pablo Casado and with Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has made about twenty excuses for not ending the blockade. One of the last has to do with the reform of the crime of sedition undertaken by the Government of Pedro Sanchez.

The maneuvers have also splashed the constitutional Court and an unprecedented decision to prevent a vote in the Senate on its own renewal. Finally, this body is going to be renewed after months of delay and the bill announced by the PSOE and Unidas Podemos as a matter of urgency will be shelved.

Since the Organic Law of the Judiciary (LOPJ) was reformed in 1985, Establishing the current model of choice, there have been six renovations. To elect the members of the CGPJ, a parliamentary majority of three fifths of Congress is needed. That is to say, it is unavoidable that the two big parties, PSOE and PP, agree on the names.

In 1985 the socialists governed with Philip Gonzalez. The CGPJ was renewed one day after the term of the members of this body expired, with Alianza Popular in opposition. In 1990 it took a little longer, four months, already with the current brand of the PP in force and the Socialists still in power.

What has happened in other legislatures with the PP in opposition? The matter took much longer. For example, with Jose Maria Aznar. The former president was the leader of the opposition on November 8, 1995, the date on which the mandate of the CGPJ expired. Aznar blocked the renewal of the body from the opposition and only agreed to renew it when he already became President of the Government. In March 1996 he won the elections and in June the CGPJ was renewed, eight months late.

already with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as president, the renewal of the CGPJ was made to wait almost two years. The mandate of the judicial body had expired in December 2016. The accusations were also very harsh then between both parties. “The PP will not be an accomplice in the occupation of Justice by the PSOE and the most radical nationalists”, justified themselves from the right. It was not until July 2008 when Zapatero was able to agree with the opposition leader, Mariano Rajoy, to unlock the renewal of this body. It was the first great pact between the two.

And when did the PSOE renew the CGPJ?

The Socialists brag that the situation has been much more agile on the occasions where their party has been in opposition. In 2001, the CGPJ was renewed only three months after the mandate of the members of this body expired. A time similar to that elapsed in 2013where it only took two months.

The situation is completely different from the one experienced during this legislature. “The PP has crossed all limits this time, imposing for four years a conservative majority in the courts that have not given him the ballot box. He must comply with the Constitution and unlock the CGPJ now “, they point out from Ferraz.

The question is whether the Sánchez government will take any measure to unblock the body as it has tried to do with the Constitutional Court (TC). the option of lower parliamentary majorities to do so is not on the table, despite pressure from its partners, due to the difficulties that the European Union would pose.

This same Wednesday Moncloa once again appealed to the popular to comply with what corresponds to them. Since Feijóo’s match this time the alliances of the socialists with parties like ERC or EH Bildu. It would be, according to government accounts, excuse number 21. Or actually, one of the first that was given back in 2020 but recycled for the present moment.

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