The plenary session of the General Council of the Judicial Power (CGPJ) has parked this Thursday the discretionary appointments that they had to address, but the members have convened an extraordinary session next Thursday to see how the negotiation between PSOE and PP progresses to renew the organ. After an intense debate, the plenary session has chosen, according to sources of the organ, to put only the appointments of the military jurisdiction to a vote this Thursday, but to stop the eight that affected the Supreme Court, higher courts of justice and provincial hearings. If within a week there is an agreement between the parties to renew the Council, those appointments will foreseeably be addressed by the new body. But if the political agreement does not forge, the plenary session will debate them again.
The debate on whether or not the Council should go ahead with the discretionary appointments that were scheduled for the plenary session this Thursday fractured the heart of the governing body of the judges on Monday. The president, Carlos Lesmes, initially left out of the agenda 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, forced the Council to include them because it is provided for in the institution’s operating regulations. These eight members argued that it should be the plenary session, and not Lesmes, who decides whether the appointments are debated.
The members have arrived at the session, convened at 10.00, divided on what to do. A group of members, both from the conservative and progressive wings, considered from the beginning 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 was reached to appoint a new Council. Others, however, chose to wait until the last moment to see how the talks between PSOE and PP progressed. And within this group there were two positions: some considered that, if there were clear signs that the pact for renewal was imminent, the Council should abstain from voting on the appointments; and others, considered that the members of the current body are entitled to exercise their position until the last day, so they should vote for the places provided in the agenda.
Finally, the plenary session has chosen a middle way. The eight members who registered the letter that forced the appointments to be included in the agenda for this Thursday have unanimously agreed to leave this point out of the plenary session, but with the condition of calling a plenary session next Thursday in which it will be studied of new the situation. The rest of the members of the body have accepted this solution, which has avoided getting to debate and put the appointments to a vote.
The decision affects eight positions, among them, three of the Supreme Court magistrate (two in Chamber I, for Civil matters, and another in Chamber IV, for Social matters). Appointments to Supreme Court magistrates are considered key positions because the elected one retains the post until retirement, prompting 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 plenary session has addressed five appointments corresponding to the military jurisdiction (two in Seville, two in Madrid and one in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias). Although some members were against voting for these if the others did not vote, the thesis defended by the president, Carlos Lesmes, and a majority of the body’s members has finally prevailed: that these were positions of a single candidate that was not considered necessary to park despite the possibility of an imminent renovation.