How can Spain end its judicial blockade?
The appointment of a new General Council of the Judiciary in Spain, which is responsible for guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary and filling key judicial posts, has been blocked for more than two years because the major parties could not agree on joint candidates. Now the government under Pedro Sánchez wants to change the procedure so that a simple majority instead of the previous three-fifths majority is sufficient.
Warsaw watching Madrid like a hawk
In El País, constitutional lawyer Pedro Cruz Villalón, a former advocate general at the EU Court of Justice and former president of the Spanish constitutional court, warns of a strong reaction from Brussels:
“It should come as no surprise that Poland, in order to defend itself [against the accusations that it is violating the rule of law], will meticulously scrutinise the legal pedigree of each of its fellow EU member states. And of course, the last thing the EU institutions can afford now is to give the impression that they don't apply the same standards to all the other member states. Under these circumstances, it should not occur to any member state to visibly weaken the rules that guarantee the independence of its judges and courts right now.”
Sleazy party deals instead of consensus
The current situation is already incompatible with the constitution, judge Fernando Portillo Rodrigo counters in El Mundo:
“The Constitutional Court has ruled that the current system [of appointing members of the Council of the Judiciary by a three-fifths majority in the parliamentary chambers] is constitutional as long as the parties do not divide the members proportionally to their strength in Parliament. But that is exactly what has been happening since 1985. ... The parties have never agreed on who the individual members of the Council of the Judiciary should be, but on how many each party is entitled to. ... The constitutional rules are being mocked: where the constitution calls for consensus, the parties are offering sleazy deals.”