The Congress of Deputies has approved this Thursday the appointment of four new magistrates of the Constitutional Court, among them that of the controversial Enrique Arnaldo, proposed by the Popular Party, which in recent days had divided the left due to its demonstrated ties to the popular. This relationship had generated a strong malaise among the parliamentary partners of the Government and also in sectors of the PSOE – which agreed on the appointments with the PP – and in United We Can, although finally the vast majority of the deputies of the two parties of the coalition Executive have supported his appointment.
Enrique Arnaldo and Concepción Espejel: controversy ensured in the Constitutional Court
But of the 243 seats that add PSOE (120), PP (88), Unidas Podemos – taking into account that Alberto Rodríguez has not yet been replaced, so the confederal group now has 34 deputies – and Forum (1) – who also supported the appointments – in the vote for Arnaldo, which has been telematic and secret, there have been 232 votes for the magistrate, so eleven were missing. As established by the Constitution, the election of the members of the Constitutional by Congress required the support of three-fifths of the chamber, totaling 210 deputies, and to achieve this reinforced majority the votes of the parties that reached the agreement were necessary. –PP and PSOE–, but also from United We Can.
Despite the voting being secret, the Socialists demanded from all their deputies proof that they had voted, as they always do in the case of telematic voting, in the context of a renewal that has included the appointment of three other members of the Constitutional Court, the election as Ombudsman of the socialist Ángel Gabilondo and the appointment of the new members of the Court of Accounts.
One of those who has not supported the controversial lawyer has been precisely the Socialist deputy for Gipuzkoa Odón Elorza, who had already shown his rejection of the appointment and who finally did not vote for him as he himself announced in a Twitter message. “After a meeting with the leadership of the Socialist Group in which I explained my position regarding the vote, I have responsibly carried out the telematic vote in which I have NOT supported Mr. Arnaldo, in defense of the prestige and dignity of the women. institutions of the TC and Congress, “he assured.
Elorza has voted for the other three candidates agreed between PP and PSOE who have also been elected Constitutional magistrates: Concepción Espejel (238 votes) – like Arnaldo, proposed by the PP and also surrounded by controversy– and Ramón Sáez Valcárcel and Inmaculada Montalbán (with 240 votes for both), both proposed by the PSOE. The PSOE leadership “will study in the coming days” the breaking of Elorza’s voting discipline in the event of a possible sanction “and will make a decision in this regard.”
Of the rest of the dissidents, their political affiliation is unknown, and if it was because they disagreed with the election. Those who have not participated in the vote have been the PNV and the pro-independence parties, which have shown their rejection of the distribution of positions between PSOE and PP. Amid harsh criticism, they did not support the Vox nominations – which asked the deputies to break voting discipline – and Ciudadanos, while Navarra Suma has voted blank. Compromís and Más País supported the majority of appointments but not those of Arnaldo and Espejel.
“They have entered into the bad practices of bipartisanship,” denounced Edmundo Bal, spokesman for Ciudadanos. “The face of shame has to fall to them. Never go up again to give lessons,” he insisted, addressing the PSOE and PP bench. “Today the Congress smells of rigor, it smells of obscenity, it smells of scandal, that is why many deputies have needed this clamp to vote,” added, for his part, the spokesman for Compromís, Joan Baldoví, showing a blackboard on the lectern of the Congress . “Possibly Mr. Arnaldo serves to do business but is not useful to be in the Constitutional Court,” he concluded. “Today candidates who are not suitable are going to vote, by deputies who know that Espejel is not suitable and that Arnaldo is not suitable,” added Íñigo Errejón, from Más País.
United We Can: “Espejel and Arnaldo should never have been proposed by the PP”
“Today we have a difficult vote,” acknowledged the spokesperson for United We Can in Congress, Antón Gómez-Reino. In his opinion, Espejel and Arnaldo “should never have been proposed by the PP”, because “implicitly they are leaders of the PP without a license.” However, he has justified the support of his group for his appointment to unblock the renewal of the institutions. “There were only two options, a better or worse agreement of three fifths of the Chamber or to continue the blockade of the institutions,” he added. “Our vote will never be a vote in favor of Arnaldo or Espejel, it is against the kidnapping of the institutions by the PP,” he clarified.
The PP, on the other hand, spoke of the “prestige” of the candidates and reaffirmed its commitment to “strong institutions.” In the opinion of Vicente Tirado, the popular deputy in charge of participating in the debate, his agreement with the PSOE “responds to the commitment to elect professionals of well-known prestige” and stressed the “sense of state” of his party. For the PSOE, the pact with the PP “is the responsibility of the government above party interests.”
The controversy generated by the election of Arnaldo as a candidate proposed by the PP is due to the fact that his name has appeared in corruption summaries, of which he emerged unscathed, but which showed his closeness to the positions popular, with whom he did business or tried to influence judicial appointments. The lawyer collaborated with the FAES Foundation and was linked to some of those causes such as Palma Arena –cause in which he was charged– or Lezo.
Pedro Sánchez himself recognized this Wednesday in the Plenary of Congress that he did not like “some” of the PP candidates to the Constitutional Court, in clear allusion to Arnadlo. Next, however, Sánchez praised the position of the PSOE and United We Can by supporting them to “save the agreement” with Pablo Casado.
The most critical of the appointments had been Deputy Elorza, who charged against the appointment of the lawyer on Wednesday of last week, in the congressional appointments advisory commission. Furthermore, in an article published in The Newspaper of Spain, two deputies of United We Can, Meri Pita and Gloria Elizo – who is also a member of the Congress Board – and a former parliamentarian of the confederal group, Eduardo Santos, hinted this Wednesday that they would vote against the appointment of Arnaldo, an aspect that It could not be confirmed by this newspaper. “Each affirmative vote is a deliberate ignorance,” they maintained, after recalling some of the latest known news about the lawyer and his connection with the PP and corruption.
After almost three years of blockade
The appointments this Thursday have taken place 1,073 days after the term of four judges of the Constitutional Court ran out and after almost three years of blockade by the Popular Party. The renewal, fruit of agreement between PSOE and PP signed on October 14 it also reached the Court of Accounts, in this case in a temporary situation since July.