The Spanish socialists perpetrate the final assault on democracy in an EU member state

Politics - December 21, 2022

The socialist government of Pedro Sánchez has been characterized throughout the legislature by presenting one scandal after another practically every week. What a couple of weeks ago was on the lips of ordinary Spaniards, that it was a major scandal and a danger for democracy on the part of the government, has been covered up by new scandals that replaced the previous ones. For three years, that has been the dynamic of this executive. However, what was until recently a problem only for a sector of society that did not feel affinity with the government, is now a problem also for the sector that could feel affinity with the Sanchez government. The latest scandal has been a red line for democracy: the assault on the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) by the Socialists, with the government directly choosing two members of the Constitutional Court who, until now, corresponded to the CGPJ.

The Constitutional Court in Spain interprets and enforces the Spanish Constitution. It is composed of twelve members who, for the moment, four are chosen by the Congress, four by the Senate, two by the Government and two by the CGPJ. In other words, the interpretation of the Spanish democratic constitution is so far in the hands of the chambers that represent the popular will, with more strength considering who is in the government, and a small part reserved to the jurists of the CGPJ which, in turn, is also chosen by politicians.

However, this is only a consequence of a constant evolution, both of this government and of the Socialist Party of Spain, which have found at the gates of 2023 the peak of a palpable anti-democratic drift. The General Council of the Judiciary was first assaulted in 1985 by the then president of the Socialist government Felipe Gonzalez. The 1978 constitution initially granted judicial independence, since at the beginning the majority of the members were chosen by the judges, while a smaller group was selected in equal parts by the Congress and the Senate. He then implemented the reform of how all the members of the body were chosen, with 10 members being chosen from then on by the Congress and 10 members by the Senate.

The price of power

Now, Pedro Sánchez picks up the baton of something that has been seen as normal behavior on the part of the Socialists in power. At a critical moment in which the coalition government is wearing down crisis after crisis, having lost historically socialist regions such as Andalusia, and with the majority of the elections calling for 2023, some socialist leaders are beginning to show their dissatisfaction with the current president of the government. Many of them, as Spanish media point out, fear an unprecedented electoral defeat after four years of scandal after scandal on the part of the PSOE. However, they have dissociated themselves from the government because of another scandal that occurred the same day: the substitution of the crime of sedition for the crime of aggravated public disorder and the lowering of the crime of embezzlement. The latter would favor the Catalan secessionist partners of the current Spanish government, and would have raised a feeling of unease with the Socialists in the rest of the country.

Social democrats in Spain are becoming more and more socialist and less and less democrat. After years of encouraging confrontation between Spaniards, polarizing society and making concessions to those who seek to destroy the unity of Spain, for the first time the country is putting its democratic system and coexistence at stake for a government entrusted to the enemies of the country. Less than a year is left for this government to amend some mistakes that seem insurmountable, and to see how expensive it will be for the PSOE to have entrusted itself to opportunism and to have mortally wounded democracy.