Monday, January 30, 2023

Spain: Constitutional Court blocks amendment to penal code

MADRID ( Associated Press) — Spain’s highest court has ruled that the upper house of parliament is barred from debating and voting on amendments to the country’s penal code, an unprecedented move that portended potential complications for a left-wing coalition ahead of an election year. ,

After nine hours of debate, the Constitutional Court accepted an appeal by the main opposition party, the Conservative Popular Party, to block parliamentary approval of a reform on the appointment of judges to certain judicial bodies, including the Constitutional Court.

The chairman of the government, socialist Pedro Sánchez, strongly criticized the PP and said that the measure was unprecedented in 44 years of Spanish democracy or in the European Union, as it paralyzed Congress and affected the renewal of the TC, which demanded Was. Spanish Constitution.

The Popular Party, he affirmed, “intends to retain by fictitious means a power which the citizens have not validated in the elections.”

Sánchez said he understood the anger of many people over the issue, called for “calmness” and promised that the government would work to break the blockade with “as many measures as necessary”.

Critics see PP’s appeal as an attack on the sovereignty of the Cortes and an attempt to avoid losing influence at court. The Popular Party, for its part, has accused the government of trying to take control of the TC in a covert way by including reforms in a quick package that would have limited debate on it.

The decision, the first of its kind in Spain’s four decades of democracy, could have consequences for future legislative processes and potentially complicate the job of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is running for re-election in 2023.

The Constitutional Court usually accepts appeals to review laws that have already been passed. At this time, he has pending appeals from the PP against several important laws on abortion, euthanasia and education. But he never intervened in the process prior to the approval of a regulation.

“We are facing some very serious events, a blow to democracy,” Jaime Essence, parliamentary spokesman for United We Can, the government’s minority partner, said on Televisión Española on Tuesday.

At stake is the perceived political bias of the country’s premier judicial bodies, even though on paper they are independent and neutral.

Both the Supreme Court and the General Council of the Judiciary, which oversees judges, have long been considered conservative. The renewal of the CGPJ has been stalled for the past four years due to the lack of consensus between the Party of Socialists (PSOE) and the PP. Both the government party and the main opposition group, as well as parliament, are involved in the appointment of judges.

The blockade of the Council, in turn, affects the periodic renewal of judges of the TC, as it elects two members of the court. But at present the council has not agreed on the judges it has elected.

That standstill has kept both organizations in the hands of conservative majorities.

The two left-wing parties in the government decided to approve a judicial reform to unblock the appointment of new members of judicial bodies, but the PP opposed the idea.

In the case of the Constitutional Court, the term of office of four judges, including its president, expired months ago. The two of them will lose their positions if replacements are agreed within the new reform.

The reform was debated and approved by a large majority in the lower house, the lower house of Congress, and was expected to be easily approved in the upper house, the Senate, on Thursday.

Nation World News Desk
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