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Wed Feb 7th, 2007 at 06:22:25 AM EST
A blog entry on Escolar.net caught my eye today, and I obtained his permission to translate it in full here. The reason I think it is relevant to ET is that kcurie has on several occasions made passing comments about how the Spanish Judiciary has not been purged of its Francoist elements. I thought Escolar's post would be a good excuse for kcurie to expand on that, and to have a discussion about the SPanish right-with political machine. So, I solicited his input, too. This is a strange experiment in multi-authoring an ET diary, which the scoop software doesn't support (at least as configured here on ET) so we did it via writeboard. Kcurie's text is italicised, and escolar's text is in a bilingual parallel columns.
As a general assesment, the left-wing in Spain has two real enemies, one is the construction/real estate sector (famous and rich in the Madrid financial center), the other is a judicial system full of Franco supporters in all its branches.
Today the main blogger in Spain (Escolar) has let us use his post discussing one of the most worrisome development in the Spanish justice systems I remember. A taste...
|..pese a que el PP ya no gobierna, la Justicia aún sigue controlada por jueces que llegaron al sillón durante la presidencia de Aznar. El PP, desde que perdió las elecciones, ha hecho todo lo posible para bloquear la renovación de los órganos de la Justicia, ya que supondría una pérdida de poder que intenta retrasar por todos los medios.||.. Despite the fact that PP does not rule anymore, the Justice is still controlled by judges who got to their present positions during Aznar presidency. The Popular Party, since it lost the elections, has done everything possible to block the renewal of the Justice control organs, since it would mean the loss of a power center that it is trying to delay using all the elements at its disposal.|
More below the fold.
First of all, a note about the title of Escolar's piece. During the Spanish Transition to democracy (1975 - 1981), "the Bunker" was the name people gave to the sector of the regime that opposed reforms. It is a widely held opinion that the Bunker's last stand was the 1981 February 23 coup attempt. But the bunker lives on, in the Judiciary.
|Escolar.net: El búnker judicial (Febrero 06, 2007)||Escolar.net: The judiciary bunker (February 06, 2007)|
|Es complejo de entender y de explicar, pero así es la Justicia española. Resulta que uno de los jueces del Tribunal Constitucional, Pablo Pérez Tremps, no podrá votar en el decisivo recurso que ha presentado el PP contra el Estatut porque hace unos años la Generalitat de Jordi Pujol le contrató para que hiciese un informe académico sobre autonomías y política exterior. Como el informe llevó su tiempo, a la hora de cobrar ya gobernaba el Tripartito, así que el Tribunal Constitucional decidió anoche que Tremps no es imparcial, que no puede votar sobre si el Estatut es o no inconstitucional porque cobró de sus impulsores.||It is complex to understand and to explain, but this is what the Spanish Judiciary is like. It turns out that one of the justices on the Constitutional Court, Pablo Pérez Tremps, will no be able to vote on the decisive appeal that the PP has raised against the [Catalan Autonomy] Statute because years ago the Generalitat [Catalan Regional Government] under Jordi Pujol hired him to draft an academic report on Autonomous Communities and foreign policy. As the report took its time, when the time came to get paid the Tripartite was already in power, so the Constitutional Court decided last night that Tremps is not impartial, that he cannot vote on whether or not the Statute is unconstitutional or not because he was paid by its promoters.|
|Tremps no puede votar porque no sería imparcial, dice el Constitucional. Pero sí podrán hacerlo sin mayor problema los jueces de la mayoría conservadora, los que deben el puesto al PP. Los doce miembros del Constitucional consiguen el sillón a propuesta del Ejecutivo (dos jueces), del Congreso (cuatro), del Senado (otros cuatro) y del Consejo General del Poder Judicial (dos). Es decir: consiguen el puesto a propuesta de los partidos políticos en función del resultado de las urnas. Y e renuevan un tercio de ellos cada tres años. En el Consejo General del Poder Judicial (CGPJ), que es quien después nombra a los jueces del Tribunal Supremo, el proceso de elección es similar, también supeditado al Congreso y el Senado.||Tremps cannot vote because he wouldn't be impartial, says the Constitutional [Court]. But the judges from the conservative majority, the ones who owe their position to the PP, will have no problem voting. The twelve members of the Constitutional [Court] achieve their seats on the proposal of the Executive (two justices), the Congress [of Deputies] (four), the Senate (another four) and the General Council of the Judiciary (two). That is: they get their positions on the proposal of the political parties as a function of election results. And one third of them are renewed every 3 years. In the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), which is the one that later sppoints the Supreme Court justices, the election procedure is similar, also subordinated to the Congress and the Senate.|
I have serious problems with this argument, in fact I think it's unsustainable. To suggest that the fact that one was nominated on the proposal of a political party should be grounds for recusing a Justice on cases introduced by the same political party brings down the entire institutional edifice of the Spanish Judiciary. And, regarding the recusation itself, "Cæsar's wife not only has to be honest but appear honest", so Tremps shouldn't be shocked that the PP is recusing him.
Which is not to say that the Judiciary is not politicised and in thrall to the media, and that the judges themselves don't act as henchment of the political parties. But that is another discussion. Or maybe the same discussio, but taking the case of Tremps' recusation as an excuse to discuss the politisation of the Judiciary, and not as the principal object of discussion.
That said, it appears that Tremps was already recused 6 months ago on the same grounds, and that the Constitutional Tribinal rejected the recusation because Tremps' report was "academic in nature". I am wondering why this second recusation wasn't thrown out as res iudicata.
Now, back to Escolar:
|Por esa razón, pese a que el PP ya no gobierna, la Justicia aún sigue controlada por jueces que llegaron al sillón durante la presidencia de Aznar. El PP, desde que perdió las elecciones, ha hecho todo lo posible para bloquear la renovación de los órganos de la Justicia, ya que supondría una pérdida de poder que intenta retrasar por todos los medios.||Por this reason, despite the PP not being in power any longer, the Judiciary is still controlled by judges who arrived at their seats during Aznas's tenure as Prime Minister. The PP, since it lost the elections, has done everything possible to block the renewal of the [governing] organs of the Judiciary, as that would entail a loss of power that it is trying to delay by any means necessary.|
|En el CGPJ ganan los conservadores. En el Constitucional, hasta ayer, había empate y ganaban por la mínima -por el voto de calidad de la presidenta- los progresistas. Anoche los conservadores le dieron la vuelta a la tortilla con una artimaña perversa: se convirtieron en mayoría al bloquear a Tremps, que no podía decidir sobre sí mismo ante el recurso del PP. Así se rompió el empate: seis contra cinco. El voto de calidad de la presidenta ya no servía, pues no hubo empate.||On the CGPJ conservatives win. In the Constitutional [Court], until yesterday, there was a tie and progressives won by the smallest margin—by the tie-breaking vote of the chairwoman—. Last night the conservatives turned the omelette around by with a perverse trick: they became the majority on the blocking of Tremps, who could not rule on himself in the face of the PP's motion. Thus was the tie broken: six to five. The tie-breaking vote of the chairwoman was no longer good, as there was no tie.|
|Con la recusación de Tremps, el recurso de anticonstucionalidad del PP contra el Estatut podría salir adelante y cancelar la reforma, a pesar de que ya ha sido aprobada por los parlamentarios y por los catalanes en referéndum. Curiosamente, muchos de los artículos que el PP considera contrarios a la Constitución aparecen, tal cual, en el Estatuto de Andalucía, el mismo que pactó Javier Arenas con Manuel Chaves.||With the recusing of Tremps, the PP's unconstitutionality appeal against the [Catalan Autonomy] Statute could come to fruition and cancel the reform, despite hacing been approved by parlamentarians and by the Catalan people in a referendum. Curiously, many of the articles that the PP considers contrary to the constitution appear, verbatin, in the Statute of Andalusia, the same that was agreed by [PP's] Javier Arenas with [PSOE's Andalusian Regional President] Manuel Chaves.|
|Pérez Tremps es uno de los dos jueces que llegaron al Constitucional a propuesta del Gobierno de Zapatero. De hecho, hoy muchos diarios aventuran la posibilidad de que Trems renuncie al sillón para que el Gobierno pueda elegir a otro juez y así salvar el Estatut del acoso conservador. En la derecha están ya en escándalo preventivo ante tal movimiento. "Deslegitimaría al Constitucional y pondría en evidencia a un Gobierno para lograr sus fines políticos", escribe El Mundo en su editorial de hoy. Puño de hierro, mandíbula de cristal.||Pérez Tremps is one of the two justices that arrived at the Constitutional [court] on the proposal of Zapatero's government. In fact, today many newspapers venture the possivility that Tremps may resign his seat so that the government can choose another judge and so save the [Catalan Autonomy] Statute from the Conservative hounding. On the right they are already on pre-emptive scandal mode facing such a move. "It would Delegitimise the Constitutional [Court] and it would expose the Government in order to achieve its political goals", El Mundo writes in its editorial today. Iron fist, glass jaw.|
As you may know Spanish political scene has been a little bit, let's say "active", in the last few months. Some observers may say that it was been on steroids during all of Zapatero's tenure. The truth is that most of it was useless noise generated by our own right-wing machinery more or less in line with what the US ultra-right-wing think tanks and power centers did during the Clinton administration. It only made Zapatero stronger.
Unfortunately, the bomb attack of ETA in Barajas airport has changed the dynamics in Spain. Before it, Zapatero had managed to pass all the left-wing social measures you could have dreamed of from a socially liberal perspectives. We have talked here about gay marriage, easy divorce, civil war memories, pro-labor employment reforms, the dependency law, and more relevant: a redistribution of power in the Spanish state via the reform of the Catalonia and Andalucia statue establishing new relations between the central state and the different spanish nationalities and communities.
The main difference between US/Uk and Spain has always been that in Spain there are strong left-wing power groups who really beat back because their own centers of power are at stake. Therefore, before the ETA bomb we expected this government to tackle the two soft spots for the economy (over-heated construction sector and real-estate market, and overdependence on oil for transportation as different ministers had aknowledged) and somehow we expected that they would address these problems in the two following years happily in the background while ETA talks were supposed to take center stage.
But that was then, and this is now. The dynamic is different. I have my particular vision for the reason... it is not so much ETA bombing but the lack of authority the president showed by stating the day before that everything was going smoothly. I may hate authority as much as anyone, but this is not the way how things works here. Parties in Spain can never be democratic, and decission-making is rarely taken using the English concept of consensus. Actually, the ideal consensus behavior for a democratic president has always been of someone knowing more than the rest because "he can listen" and listen and listen.. but then he must show the resolve to do whatever he see fits. This is the spanish game, and few people realize. The spanish system ahs always been: " Iw ill not vote if you do not really have power". So, no matter what happened in the last fight about the power redistribution (which the new Catalan statute exemplified) Zapatero had all the cards in his hands. Despite constant fearmongering about the doom of the spnaihs left there was no doubt that he only had to shove it to the right-wing and shove it to the independentists...he did it and he showed authority.. and he did it,and of course, everybody love it (without saying ti so of course...). Result, he managed to redistribute power as much as he wanted towards Andalucia with no big stir. He also strengthened the left-wing power in typical nationalistic areas all around the country and left the right-wing PP out in the woods,lost with probably still no change to win an absolute majority in years.
But now, after the bomb, the past ghosts come back. Once thought to be an end history now we have a full attack on the power distribution using a key right-wing resource. The judges. The move has been basically to change an established doctrine for "perceived" incompatibilities just in time to affect a key judge in the Constitutional Court which has to decide the legality of the new Catalan Statue. I should recall here one important point of Escolar, that the right-wing party considers some items of the Catalan statute unconstitutional, while the same articles, stating the same thing, in the Andalucian statute were supported by the PP right-wing party. The reason is that PP has no significant votes in Catalonia, while losing even the slight support in Andalucia will be the end of PP as a significant national party (a party with no significant representation in Catalonia, Vasque Country and Andalucia is not an Spanish party in any particular meaningful sense of the word, no way to win any election without significant representation in at least one of them).
The movement is also designed to help to consolidate the control of the judicial system as Escolar clearly explains. You may not belief me, but pro-franco lawyers, judges, lawyer firms and prosecutors go around freely, happily (and normally in quite rich clothes) in Spain. There is no other sector so embedded in the past (although some constructors and security firms could join the picture....) They not only follow a very narrow militant take on politics, they also help finance new judges and new structures, the so -called "judges associations" which pool together judges which have a clear conservative tendency (although they are not so stuck in the past). Some of the members in these associations represent the new neolib unitary right-wing executive vision adapted to Spain.
We are talking about very serious stuff. I hope the ET community would realize how serious is this stuff....it really recalls an old episode of a TV series called "House" about how the Hospital new boss tried to get rid of House using non-moral legal moves playing with which person has the ability to vote in a certain procedure by firing each member of the board which opposed his decition. I guess this means that now we are going to see a really tough fight from an emboldened right.. for power and to convince the moving spanish center that ZP has no authority and the spanish undermobilized left-wing sectors that he is "not that good " so that it is worthy to go and vote for him.
Zapatero will have to fight back. Console yourself meanwhile... in House, the wingnut radical boss attached to his own pharma interests loses, House wins. Unfortunately this is not a happy ending TV series.
Zapatero and the PSOE are taking a long time to react to this, and some people are beginning to get restless at the spinelessness of the government and its suporting party. As kuryakin pointed out on Escolar's thread, it is frustrating when it is left to Javier Pérez Royo, a well-respected University Professor of Constitutional law, to say the things that the PSOE should be saying:
Update [2007-2-7 16:0:22 by Migeru]:
|El plural: Pérez Royo califica de "desvergüenza absoluta" la recusación de Pérez Tremps (06/02/2007)||El plural: Pérez Royo dubs an "absolute shamelessness" the recusation of Pérez Tremps (06/02/2007)|
|Señala que uno de los magistrados no cree en la Constitución||He indicates that one of the magistrates does not believe in the Constitution|
|El catedrático de Derecho Constitucional Javier Pérez Royo se ha referido en términos muy duros a la recusación del magistrado del Tribunal Constitucional Pablo Pérez Tremps, a la que ha calificado de "desvergüenza absoluta". Pérez Royo señaló además que en el Tribunal "hay uno de los magistrados que en privado se jacta de que la Constitución no es su norma de referencia ni mucho menos", y acusó a los seis jueces favorables de la recusación de seguir los preceptos editoriales de El Mundo y ABC.||The Chair of Constitutional Law [at the University of Sevilla] Javier Pérez Royo as referren in very strong terms to the recusation of the magistrate of the Constitutional Court Pablo Pérez Tremps, which he has dubbed an "absolute shamelessness". Pérez Royo also indicated that on the Court "there is one of the Magistrates who in private boasts that the Constitution is not his reference norm, not even close",and he accused the six judges favourable to the recusation of following the editorial precepts of [the newspapers] El Mundo and ABC.|
|Pérez Royo afirmó durante la tertulia del programa Hoy por hoy de la cadena SER que esta recusación "ni quiera tenía que haberse presentado" porque el documento por el que se considera que la imparcialidad de Pérez Tremps no está probada no es más que "un trabajo académico", como ya se aclaró hace unos meses, y además se escribió dentro de "una obra colectiva" y "mucho antes de que Pérez Tremps pensara que iba a ser magistrado del Tribunal Constitucional".||Pérez Royo stated during the round table of the program Hoy por hoy on the SER radio station that this recusation "should not even have been introduced" because the document which is considered to cast doubts over the impartiality of Pérez Tremps is no more than "an academic work", as it was clarified months ago, and in addition it was included in "a collective work" and "long before Pérez Tremps thought he was going to be a Magistrate on the Constitutional Court".|
As kcurie mentions in the comments:
|El Pais: El fiscal Mariano Fernández Bermejo sustituirá a López Aguilar al frente del Ministerio de Justicia (07/02/2007)||El Pais: The prosecutor Mariano Fernández Bermejo will replace López Aguilar at the head of the Ministry of Justice (07/02/2007)|
|El Gobierno de Aznar apartó a Bermejo de la fiscalía de Madrid en 2003 por no compartir la línea política oficial||The government of Aznar removed Bermejo from the Madrid public prosecution for not sharing the official political line|
|El presidente del Gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ha decidido nombrar al ex fiscal jefe de Madrid, Mariano Fernández Bermejo, nuevo ministro de Justicia, en sustitución de Juan Fernando López Aguilar, que según fuentes consultadas cesará en su cargo en el consejo de ministros del próximo viernes, 9 de febrero. El presidente llegó a la conclusión, según esas fuentes, de que era necesario "dar un mensaje de autoridad" con el nombramiento de una personalidad procedente del ámbito judicial.||The Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has decided to appoint the former Madrid head prosecutor, Mariano Fernández Bermejo, as the new minister of Justice, as a replacement for Juan Fernando López Aguilar, who according to sources consulted [by El Pais] will leave his position at the Council of Ministers next Saturday, 9 February. The president reached the conclusion, according to these sources, that it was necessary to "give a message of authority" with the appointment of a personality from the Judiciary.|
I think this means that Zapatero has decided to let the PP shenanigans play out in the Constitutional Court as the Catalan Statute is not that important to him. And, as kcurie predicted, a show of authority was in order. This comes after what seems to have been a good session of Government Control in the Congress and Senate, with a spirited intervention by the Minister of Justice.
by Oui - Jul 14
by Oui - Jul 19