The president of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) has reprimanded the political forces for the situation of paralysis in which the governing body of the judges finds itself, which is heading towards four years with the mandate expired. In his speech at the solemn act of Opening of the Judicial Year, Carlos Lesmes has asked the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the leader of the PP, Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, to meet "urgently" to agree on the renewal "in the next weeks" and put an end to a situation that he has described as "unsustainable". Lesmes has asked that the renewal be agreed and that, if it is not done, the powers of the CGPJ be restored. That is, that he be allowed to continue making key appointments at the top of the main courts.
Lesmes warns of the "unsustainable" situation of the Judiciary and affirms that he has "no hope" in its renewal
Lesmes has unloaded all the responsibility on the political parties and has ruled out a block resignation as a way to force the end of the blockade. In his opinion, a collective resignation would be “irresponsible” and “unacceptable”. “What would the citizens think (...) if all the ministers of a government in office decided collectively to desert their positions, leaving Spain without a government, as a means of putting pressure on Parliament in an investiture process that was taking place in the time?” he asserted. "What is unthinkable for the Government is also unthinkable for the governing body of the judges," he added.
The blockade on the renewal of the CGPJ has been maintained since 2018 due to the lack of political agreement for the renewal of its twenty members, which has to be agreed by a three-fifths majority of the members of the Cortes Generales. The Popular Party has resisted during all this time to lose its power in one of the key institutions of the State, the one that decides which judges are promoted to the highest positions in the judiciary. The current governing body of the judges has ten members elected at the proposal of the PP, six from the PSOE, one from the IU and another from the PNV. At the head is Lesmes, who was a high position in the governments of José María Aznar. In the last year it has lost two of its members, Rafael Fernández Valverde, who has retired; and Victoria Cinto, who passed away last June. Neither of them could be replaced.
In his speech, Lesmes has warned of the consequences that the blockade on the renewal of the CGPJ and the reform that prevents appointments in the judicial leadership with the expired mandate, approved in March 2021, is having for the judicial system. Lesmes has had a special impact in the situation in the Supreme Court, which has lost more than a dozen judges due to retirements and deaths without being able to fill those vacancies. It is, he has asserted, a "limit" situation that in a few months would be "unsustainable".
Until the approval of this norm, the CGPJ had made 74 appointments in the main courts, 21 of them in the Supreme Court, where they are considered especially sensitive because those positions, unless resigned, are kept until retirement, set for judges and magistrates to the 72 years. This norm was promoted by PSOE and United We Can and had broad parliamentary support.
In the opinion of the president of the CGPJ, however, this rule has had "devastating" effects and has ensured that only in the Supreme Court there are 14 unfilled vacancies out of a plant of 79 magistrates. "The mess is so great that a similar situation had not occurred at the top of the Spanish Justice in the entire history of our democracy," he insisted.