The anniversary of the Constitution shows the lack of consensus for its reform | Spain

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“Two do not dance if one does not want to.” The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has thus summarized, in an informal conversation with journalists at the gates of Congress and after the celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Constitution, the situation stalled for the pending renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary, the organ of government of the judges. Before the act, the chief executive had claimed from the opposition leader, Pablo Casado, in an implicit but very direct message, that the Constitution had to “take care of it” and above all comply “from top to bottom from the first to the last.” of its 169 articles. At the end of the event, and after greeting Casado very formally, the Chief Executive admitted that he is concerned that this “flagrant non-compliance” will “normalize”. Several ministers and official sources from La Moncloa also ratified that negotiations with the PP to resolve this issue are still blocked.

The outlook does not look much more encouraging from the ranks of the conservative formation, neither on the extended Judicial Power nor on the recurring debate at this time about possible reforms to the Magna Carta after 43 years. Sources from the leadership of the PP once again ratified this Monday that there is no news in their contacts with the Government to resolve the crossed vetoes that are maintained over the Judicial Power and that the matter is not expected to unravel before the imminent Christmas holidays. Other sources in the leadership of the PP have come to recognize that nothing would happen if this anomaly lasts until the end of the legislature, within more than probably two years, because they hope to win the elections then and benefit from the next renewal. The current Council has been in operation since 2013, after the agreement reached then between the Government with an absolute majority of the PP with the PSOE in opposition to Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.

The popular have for weeks reaffirmed their theoretical willingness to unblock this problem and put names and surnames to the 20 members of the Council, but provided that the Executive agrees to reform before or at least at the same time the organic law that regulates that body for the judges to choose directly to those who represent them, and not as it has been in force since 1985: through an indirect process and with the participation of Parliament. The governmental coalition, formed by the PSOE and United We Can, refuses to modify that law in that sense and defends the involvement of the Cortes in the selection process on behalf of the vote of all Spaniards. Positions have been like this for months and they don’t seem to have made any progress.

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The Minister of Justice, Pilar Llop, took advantage of this Monday another group of journalists after the celebration of the Constitution to emphasize that it would be appropriate for there to be another renewed Council and with all its powers in force for March, when the visit to Spain of the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders. The European Union has ordered Spain several times to solve this problem and give more participation to the judges in the selection of its governing body, another added pressure, such as that periodically exercised by the president of the Judiciary, Carlos Lesmes, that this Monday he held meetings at the Congress event with the president and more political leaders. The blockade in the CGPJ has caused a significant backlog in the appointment of other judicial positions, especially in the Supreme Court, because now it is forbidden by law for a functioning Judicial Power to resolve such decisions.

The president of the Cortes, the socialist Meritxell Batet, took advantage of her most relevant institutional speech of the year to exhort, in a generic but clear way, the parties to fulfill their obligations and mandates both for the launch of large consensuses and for the renewal of the constitutional charges. “The pacts and agreements essentially demand a single requirement, the will to achieve them; It is up to us to contribute that will and make it a priority ”, indicated the president of the Cortes. And it was there when he appealed to the “institutional work” of facing that unequivocal responsibility that the Fundamental Norm attributes to the parties represented in the Chambers: “We can disagree with the constitutional and legal obligations, and even try to modify them, but insofar as their compliance is not questionable. Whoever disputes compliance with the Constitution intends to place themselves above it ”.

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On this 43rd anniversary of the Fundamental Law of 1978, which was held again in the open air in the Carrera de San Jerónimo due to the pandemic, the president of Congress wanted to appeal to the “special responsibility” of the political class in the face of these crises. “The Constitution displays all its general efficacy on politics, without exceptions or particularities. For politicians, the Constitution is an expression of a fundamental consensus, it is a benchmark of values ​​and principles, it is a norm that demands respect and compliance in our actions and decisions, and it is a program for the future whose effectiveness we must pursue in the policies that we promote, ”he said.

In this institutional tone, Batet also alluded to the incidents and angry dialectical confrontations that have been taking place in the Chambers for months and for which he has repeatedly recommended “education and respect”. This Monday he insisted on that warning to avoid falling into populism: “The behavior and actions of political representatives have become a fundamental factor for the reinforcement of democracy, of our constitutional system; but also, on the contrary, for its questioning and the distancing of an important part of the citizens, for the transfer to society of confrontation and tension. In short, for the delegitimization of democracy itself ”.

“Constitutional loyalty”

The president of the Cortes influenced the legitimacy, validity and future of the Constitution if politicians understand their role with “constitutional loyalty”, but did not mention anything about its reform. This debate was picked up by the representatives of the parties to show the scant consensus and the enormous distances between the two ideological sides of the hemicycle.

The president, Pedro Sánchez, limited himself in his initial presentation to demanding from the parties a greater “care” of the Constitution in all its aspects and related that demand to how much it “cost” to achieve that Fundamental Norm for previous generations. Casado replied in advance to these considerations by blaming Sánchez for the current “suicidal revisionism” of the Government and its partners not only of the Constitution, but also of the Transition and even of “putting in check” the Amnesty Law for a few votes to continue in The Moncloa.

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The leader of Ciudadanos, Inés Arrimadas, and a cataract of regional presidents of the PP, from Madrid’s Isabel Díaz Ayuso to Alberto Núñez Feijóo, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco or Fernando López Miras competed in their string of attacks on Sánchez, because they understand that he governs tied to the demands of the Catalan and Basque independentists.

Corrupt Monarchy or Republic

United Podemos did not want to deprive itself this Monday of expressing some of the great differences that distance it from the PSOE, its government partner. Several of its leaders appeared in Congress, in full celebration of the 1978 Constitution, to question the validity of the current system of parliamentary monarchy. The most forceful was Gerardo Pisarello, secretary of the Board of the Chamber and member of En Comú Podem, who after denouncing the “involution and denial” of the right questioned the PSOE for obstructing the requests for investigation on the emeritus king Juan Carlos I . “We demand substantive constitutional changes, which are not makeup, that shield social rights and that allow to illuminate a feminist, green Constitution, at the height of the 21st century,” said Pisarello and added: “The only key for those constitutional changes possible is that the generations that did not vote on the 1978 Constitution can freely decide whether they want to continue living under an obsolete and corrupted Monarchy or under a modern and democratic Republic ”.

On behalf of United We Can, Jaume Asens, president of the group, also intervened to insist on his position that this “Constitution has become an old suit and it is necessary to listen to citizens again to build new consensus.” Asens contradicted the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, who had predicted a long life for the Magna Carta and warned that Constitutions that are not updated “are doomed to die.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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