The controversy began on Tuesday. That day, PSOE and United We Can registered in the Congress of Deputies a bill to change the election of 12 of the 20 members of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), the governing body of the judiciary. Until now, they were appointed with a reinforced majority (3/5 of the chambers) in Congress and the Senate and the idea of both formations is to lower that figure to an absolute majority. In addition, since the Government did not present it but rather the parliamentary groups, they avoided the reports of the Council of State and the CGPJ itself.
Next the main judicial associations they raised their voices. Then the opposition. Even the state attorney general, DoloresDelgado, former Minister of Justice, asked the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, for “consensus”. Finally, suspicions reached Europe, which shows doubts. Fast track change can, according to Brussels, violate community rules.
And the fact is that the Union is now especially focused on defending the figure of the rule of law with independent powers, something that is upset with the figure, always according to the main affected. In addition, this reform it would be something exceptional in Europe, where most of the countries that have recently reformed the election of representatives of the judicial world have done so to reinforce their independence. All except Poland and Hungary.
Poland and Hungary
Without a doubt, the most controversial. It was in 2017 when Poland decided to undertake a judicial reform that, as the Court of Justice of the European Union would later prove, was “contrary to the law of the European Union”. And it is that, the Polish Executive decided that to lower the retirement age of the judges from 70 to 65 years (at first it differentiated that amount between men and women, but later they corrected it), which forced 27 of the 72 magistrates to retire of the Supreme Court. Among them, its president, MargaretGersdorf, which had already blocked some government decisions.
Finally, this reform did not come into force due to its response in the street, but another one with which the election of 15 of the 25 members of the National Council of the Judiciary was changed, that happened to be chosen by the parliament instead of by the own judges.
In Hungary, a two-thirds majority in Parliament elects the Supreme and Constitutional justices. There is also the National Court Office which is the one that decides on the budget and the appointments of the judges in the district and regional courts. Its 15 members are elected by the judges themselves but the president is selected by Parliament with a two-thirds majority.
The Gallic country undertook a reform of its system in 2008, but it was to reinforce the independence of the Superior Council of the Magistracy, which has 15 members: seven are elected indirectly by the judges and the other eight, by the Council of State (1), by the bar associations (1), by the President of the Republic (2), by the President of the National Assembly (2) and of the Senate (2). It is this body that appoints the members of the Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeal and the Courts of High Instance (about 400 seats in total).
The professor in Constitutional Law, Jose Manuel Vera, explains that not all countries have a body similar to the CGPJ. Germany is one of themas it has political implications.
The magistrates of the Supreme, who are for life, are elected by a commission in which the ministers of Justice of the 16 federated states and 16 members of the lower house of parliament are present (Bundestag). This chamber also elects half of the judges that make up the Constitutional. The other half leave the chamber where the federal states are represented. Most necessary in all cases it is two thirds.
It was in 1999 when the Danish Judicial Administration it became independent, since before its responsibilities fell to the Ministry of Justice. Now, although both administrations remain linked, the Minister of Justice does not have the power to issue instructions or modify the resolutions reached. It has 11 seats: 8 members are judicial representatives, another two are representatives of civil society with knowledge in social matters and administration, and the other is a lawyer. Once the new members of the board are elected, it appoints its president and vice president. Until now, it has always been presided over by the Chief Justice.
The Italian parliaments are involved in the election of the members of the Constitutional and the Superior Council of the Magistracy, similar al CGPJ. Of the 15 members of the first body, five are appointed by the President of the Republic, another five by the Parliament, and the remainder by the judges. For its part, the Superior Council of the Judiciary comprises 27 members, including the First President of the Supreme Court and the attorney general of the Supreme Court and twenty-four other positions that are elected.