'The Economist' considers Spain a "defective democracy" due to the lack of renewal of the Judiciary

The lack of renewal of General Council of the Judiciary, whose mandate has expired for three years, takes its toll on Spain's democratic quality according to 'The Economist'. A report published this week by the 'Economist Intelligence Unit' downgrades Spain to the category of "defective democracies" after analyzing the lack of renewal of the judges' governing body and concluding that this blockade puts their independence at risk and increases the chances of its politicization.

Will it ever be possible to renew the General Council of the Judiciary?

Will it ever be possible to renew the General Council of the Judiciary?

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This annual report published by 'The Economist' analyzes democracies around the world based on 60 indicators that it divides and scores into 5 different categories. Democracies are divided into various levels: "full democracies", "defective democracies", "hybrid regimes" and finally "authoritarian regimes". In the case of defective democracies, in which Spain is now placed, the report places democracies with free elections but with "problems" and "significant weaknesses" in some aspects such as political participation or governance.

Spain had already been on the verge of losing the category of full democracy in 2017 in the midst of the Catalan independence challenge and this year it has done so by a narrow margin of points. In 2020, according to this study, it has gone from having 8.12 points to 7.94 and that implies relegation to the category of failed democracy. The reason, explains 'The Economist', is the lack of renewal of the CGPJ, which has been aborted on several occasions with the Popular Party and the PSOE unable to reach an agreement and Pablo Casado's party blocking negotiations through the veto of candidates and alleging the possible presence of members proposed by United We Can.

"Spain's decline in 2021 is the result, above all, of a decline in its score on judicial independence, related to political divisions around the renewal of new magistrates in the General Council of the Judiciary," says the report referring to to the members with magistrates. The Council, he recalls, has been operating in office since 2018 and there has been no agreement for its renewal. In addition, the report adds, "Spain is suffering from an increase in parliamentary fragmentation, a litany of corruption scandals and growing nationalism in Catalonia", which, according to the study, constitute challenges for the country's governance.

The study shows that Spain and Chile were the only countries in the world to lose the category of "full democracy" during the past year and that Spain was, therefore, the only European country to drop in this ranking. "Most countries saw slight declines in their scores, reflecting the lingering political fallout from the coronavirus pandemic," the report explains.

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