Day December 23. Midmorning. The seven members of the progressive sector of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) they begin to cross calls with each other. The initiative is taken Rafael Mozo, alternate president of the governing body of judges. They comment on the play of the conservative block, which the day before has requested the convening of a plenary session for a second vote with a new candidate, in addition to the magistrate Cesar Tolosa: Maria Luisa Segovianoformer president of the Fourth Chamber of the Supreme Court, prestigious progressive magistrate.
The substitute president has agreed to the request and convenes the plenary session four days later, on the 27th. The conservative sector boasts to the press that its offer cannot be rejected, but deep down it is convinced that the progressive bloc will continue to defend and sword his autonomy to assert his own candidate, the magistrate of the Third Chamber Jose Manuel Bandres.
The conservative members, the majority in the CGPJ, with 10 votes to 8, rectify when they hear the word veto and explain that it is not that they veto Bandrés, but that “they prefer another candidate”. But in the background of the rejection of him by this judge, who has been in the Supreme Court for 19 years, the figure of Candid Count-Pumpidoa Constitutional magistrate who is running as a favorite for the presidency of the court.
The conservative sector clings to its rejection of Bandrés because of his close relationship with Conde-Pumpido. In fact, some conservative members point out that Bandrés could be Conde-Pumpido’s candidate to later guarantee his election as president of the guarantee court. María Luisa Segoviano is, for the conservatives, “a much better candidate” than Bandrés. Especially since they trust her to back up Maria Luisa Balaguer for the presidency of the court of guarantees instead of Conde-Pumpido.
The inclusion of Segoviano in the offer of the conservatives reaches the heart of the Constitutional Court, at that time shaken by the unprecedented decision of the conservative majority to paralyze the legislative process of the reform that was going to unblock the renewal of the guarantee court itself.
As this newspaper has learned, there were also call crossing on December 23 between members of the CGPJ and magistrates of the TC, all of them from the progressive sector. Some of these magistrates saw in the proposal “a good way out of the conflict.” After all, Segoviano is “a good left-wing magistrate”, not to mention the interest for the purposes of gender parity in the court of guarantees.
A simple, bold and discreet plan
Thus, that December 23, the eve of Christmas Eve, the plan of the progressives was conceived to unblock the renewal of the Constitutional Court. A “simple and—yet—bold and risky point” plan, he tells Public a member of the Council, who clarifies that “there was no secret pact or anything like that, but there was a lot of discretion”.
Under no circumstances could it reach the ears of the conservatives that the progressives were going to vote en bloc in favor of their two candidates, renouncing Bandrés, for the sake of a greater good: the renewal of the TC and the progressive majority that it was going to propitiate. The members of this block feared that if the conservatives found out in advance they could devise a strategy to continue blocking the renewal of the Constitutional Constitution.
On voting day, Tuesday, September 27, the progressives met at the Council headquarters an hour before before the plenary session to finalize the details. They left out of that conclave Enrique Lucas, the member proposed by the PNV who traditionally votes with them but who on this occasion was affected by personal interests, since his brother, Judge Pablo Lucas, had initially been proposed by the Conservatives along with Tolosa.
The vote of Enrique Lucas
The vocal Lucas was called to have a crucial role in that second vote to elect two magistrates of the TC, but the plan of the progressives derailed the forecasts of the conservatives.
The first vote in the CGPJ for the election of two members of the TC, in the plenary session on December 20, ended in failure by a single vote. There are eleven votes needed for the magistrates to be elected. The candidates of the conservatives, Tolosa and Pablo Lucas, considered more progressive than conservative, obtained 10 votes each, all of them from the conservatives; while José Manuel Bandrés collected seven from the progressives. Enrique Lucas abstained.
When the conservatives resigned Pablo Lucas in the following vote, his brother no longer had to abstain. The conservative members trusted that Enrique Lucas, who had not supported Bandrés’ candidacy, would add his vote to the Tolosa-Segovian tandem. Also mistakenly thought progressives would hold their ground in the candidacy of Bandrés. But they were wrong.
One by one the seven progressives voted in favor of the candidacies of the conservatives. Lucas also voted the same and did so when four of the progressives had already cast their vote.
Perplexed faces and a collateral victim
María Luisa Segoviano and César Tolosa were unanimously elected. Sources present at the vote describe the “perplexity reflected in the faces” of some of the members proposed by the PP. “It was worth trying: 7-4 today I wasn’t even in some’s worst nightmares,” says a progressive vocalist. Other industry sources tell Public that “someone had to give in” because the situation was “unsustainable.”
The collateral victim is Bandrés, who was informed at the last moment of the plans of the progressive bloc. Sources related to him tell this newspaper that he trusts that after this intense process the Constitutional Court will recover its authority as guarantor of the regular functioning of the constitutional system.