Spanish Constitutional Court halts legislative process

by Lorraine Williamson
constitutional court

MADRID – According to media reports, Spain’s constitutional court has halted an ongoing legislative process by the left-wing government. It wants to end the conservative majority of constitutional judges through a new election procedure. 

Yesterday, the conservative majority of judges approved an urgent motion by the conservative opposition party PP against the proposed legislative package of the PSOE-Unidas Podemos coalition. Spanish media call it a “very unusual decision” and nothing like it has ever happened in the young Spanish democracy. 

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The PP considers a package of laws from the left government to be unconstitutional. This also includes a law to reduce the sentences of Catalan separatist politicians. 

Violent war of words 

The Spanish House of Representatives had already approved the bill on Thursday 15 December with the votes of the government factions and smaller parties. This was accompanied by a very violent battle of words. Government and opposition speakers accused each other of planning a coup. 

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The Senate must vote on the legislative initiative on Thursday. The judges have now put a stop to that. It was initially unclear how things would proceed as there had never been a case like this before. 

The court decision will further worsen the relationship between the government and the opposition 

The Constitutional Court’s decision is likely to further worsen the already deeply irreconcilable relationship between the government and the opposition. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s government wanted to use the new electoral procedure for the members of the Constitutional Court to break a months-long blockade by conservative lawyers. 

She blames the PP and judges close to the right-wing conservative party for wanting to prevent an extension by more progressive judges as an expression of the changed majority in parliament since 2019. 

Constitutional Court can have an important influence on the election year 

Sánchez wants to prevent a conservative-dominated constitutional court from overturning important government laws in the coming election year. He also wants to appease the situation in Catalonia, so that the conflict does not determine the election campaign. 

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