The debate on whether or not the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) should continue with the discretionary appointments that were scheduled for the plenary session this Thursday has fractured this Monday the bosom of the governing body of judges.
The president, Carlos Lesmes, initially left out of the plenary session the voting of eight seats that were already ready to be assigned, but the protest of eight members, who demanded in writing that these appointments be incorporated into the agenda, It will oblige the Council to include them because it is provided for in the institution’s operating regulations.
These eight members argue that it should be the plenary session, and not Lesmes, who decides whether the appointments are debated.
The preparation of the agenda of the plenary session is the responsibility of the president, but in recent days the internal debate had ignited on whether the planned appointments had to be stopped once the negotiation of PSOE and PP for the renewal of the Council had transcended.
A group of members, both from the conservative and progressive wings, considered that they should be parked, “in coherence” with what was decided in January and July 2020, when they were paralyzed by the possibility (apparently less close than now) that an agreement will be reached to appoint a new Council.
Some members, however, were in favor of including them and, if on Thursday the negotiations between the two parties had borne fruit or were going ahead, remove the appointments from the agenda on the fly at the beginning of the plenary session.
Thus, according to these members, time was bought in case the political conversations failed again. But the president ultimately chose to leave them out. Council sources point out that this decision has weighed both “coherence” and the internal division itself, which made it impossible to reach a consensus agreement if it was chosen to put a seat to a vote.
After learning of Lesmes’ decision, eight members (five conservatives, two progressives and the member proposed by the PNV) submitted a letter demanding that they continue with the appointments that were already on the table, including three magistrate positions in the Supreme Court .
The members base their request on article 18.5 of the Regulations for the Organization and Functioning of the Council, which recognizes the members of the body their right to “make written proposals and include them on the agenda of the Council meetings”. That is, if there is an official request that an issue be included on the agenda of a plenary session, the president is bound to accept it, sources from the body assure.
The eight members who have demanded that the matter be debated are Vicente Gilarte, José Antonio Ballestero, José María Macías, María Ángeles Carmona and Gerardo Martínez Tristán (proposed by the PP); Roser Bach and Victoria Cinto (proposed by the PSOE); and Enrique Lucas (proposed by the PNV).
One of the promoters of the letter assures that the intention is not to put the appointments to a vote at all costs, but that it is the plenary session, and not Lesmes, which decides whether or not they are debated. These members argue that this was done on the two previous occasions in which it was decided to park the appointments.
In addition, some of the signatories of the letter defend, this option also allows us to gain time until Thursday to see how the negotiations between PSOE and PP progress.
After the request of these members, the debate on the appointments will be incorporated as an addition to the agenda, according to sources from the organ. In principle, it will be proposed to vote on eight seats, including three for a Supreme Court magistrate (two in Room I, Civil, and another in Room IV, Social).
Appointments of Supreme Court magistratesthey are considered key positions because the elected one retains the position until his retirement, which led the government last fall to suggest that the Council should refrain from continuing to fill vacancies in the high court, something that was ignored.
Along with these three positions in the Supreme Court, the Council also planned to put to a vote the presidencies of the higher courts of the Canary Islands and the Basque Country, that of the Social Chamber of the Basque Country and those of the Provincial Courts of Almería and Salamanca.
The agenda does include five appointments corresponding to the military jurisdiction (two in Seville, two in Madrid and one in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias) but sources from the body argue that they are single candidate positions that are not considered necessary to park. The report has also been incorporated into the draft organic law for the Comprehensive Guarantee of Sexual Freedom prepared by three members, which will be put to a vote.