The Government and the PP will meet again after the 4-M elections in Madrid to resume the blocked renewal of the governing body of the Judiciary. Contacts at the highest level have never been completely suspended. The Executive has come to offer in its last negotiation attempt to the popular leadership to return to the State Pact for Justice of 2001 and reduce the influence in the election by the Courts of the candidates selected by the judges to attend the Council of the Judicial Power . That selection is now made from 51 candidates, they can be even more, endorsed by the race, and it would be only 36.
“We will have to sit down again on May 5 and talk,” respond from the Executive of Pedro Sánchez to confirm that the negotiation with the PP will be reactivated. The electoral appointment has muddied everything in these weeks, but the Government and the PP are aware that they have a constitutional obligation, with the judges and with Europe to unblock the election of a new General Council of the Judiciary, pending for some time two years and a half. The current CGPJ was elected in 2013 for five years.
Both sides of the negotiation acknowledge that the agreement from which they are starting “is already very large,” especially in the need to provide the Council with a sense of political independence greater than the current one. The judges, in the internal surveys of the Judicial Power itself, confess that they are very independent when acting in their day-to-day lives, but both in the Government and in the PP they verify that this is not the public perception with respect to the Council itself.
The Ministry of Justice has sent the PP, both its leader, Pablo Casado, and his number two, Teodoro García Egea, now in charge of this negotiation, an offer to rescue some aspects of the State Pact for the Reform of Justice, signed on May 28, 2001 between the Executive of the PP and the PSOE of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. In point 21 of the 23 contemplated a new model for the election of the Council was specified: according to article 122 of the Constitution, 12 of the 20 members would be proposed from among the judges and magistrates of all categories by the Courts (six per chamber ) by a three-fifths majority. Those applicants should be presented “up to a maximum of three times the 12 positions to be proposed (36), by the Professional Associations of Judges and Magistrates or by a number of Judges and Magistrates representing at least two percent of those who are on active duty ”. The maximum number of candidates to be presented by each association “will be adjusted to strict proportionality criteria.” The 36 candidates will be distributed in proportion to the number of members of each association, which will promote them as established in its statutes, and the number of non-members of any association, indicated in this case by the signatures of other judges and magistrates, according to the data registered in the Judicial Power and without being able to endorse more than one. Those who collect the most guarantees will pass this filter.
The current Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, a former spokesman for the Judiciary, is a firm defender of this model. And he has transferred his interest in returning to that method to both Casado and García Egea, who according to sources in the negotiation, welcomed the idea with interest. On February 17, 2020, shortly after being appointed by Pedro Sánchez, Campo exhibited in his first appearance in Congress exactly those plans: “Can anyone really argue that the model we gave ourselves in the 2001 State Pact is not rabidly constitutional? It is a double legitimation model that means that the judges propose ”. Campo recalled that he himself was elected when the proposed judges were a maximum of 36 over whom 12 were elected by the Courts and concluded: “The choice of Parliament is very limited. You can choose between them and between the lawyers. We may like it or not, but the Constitutional Court blessed that formula ”.
Sources familiar with the negotiation even point out that the Government and the PP had closed in their last approximations the names of 18 of the 20 members of the new Council, with the exception of the two who are attributed close to United We Can, which ran aground the entire process. One of those candidates was Judge Victoria Rosell, who appeared on Podemos lists and is now the Government Delegate for Gender Violence. Rosell withdrew his candidacy as soon as the veto imposed by the PP was known. The other blocked candidate is José Ricardo de Prada, a magistrate with many years of experience who has never played in any party but to whom the PP blames the harshest paragraphs against the party in the ruling of the Gürtel case, especially those referring to Mariano Rajoy. Among the negotiators it is speculated that, in the face of this bloc situation, which seems irreversible, De Prada himself could end up withdrawing his candidacy to facilitate a way out of this constitutional jam.