A dozen MPs vote against the whip in Constitutional Court nominees' confirmation
Socialist Odón Elorza has made public that he did not vote for Enrique Arnaldo, proposed by the PP
MadridA dozen MPs have gone against the whip in the confirmation vote for Constitutional Court nominees. A total of 249 MPs have taken part. These were members of the Socialist Party (PSOE), Podemos, the People's Party (PP), the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and some minor parties. The three parties that were part of the agreement had a total of 243 MPs, but Enrique Arnaldo's candidacy obtained 232 votes, meaning 11 MPs have gone against the whip. Concepción Espejel has been elected with 237 votes and Juan Ramón Sáez and Inmaculada Montalbán with 240, so there are 3 MPs who have overturned the global agreement. The vote was electronic and secret, but PSOE MP Odón Elorza has already made public that he rejected Arnaldo's candidacy. As for the votes for the Court of Auditors, the aspirants obtained 239 votes – except for José Manuel Otero, 238 – and 10 were blank.
The vote was not attended by over 100 MPs in protest against the deal between the Spanish government –PSOE and Podemos– and the PP to share out the positions that had to be renewed. Enrique Arnaldo's candidacy for the court of guarantees, proposed by the PP, has been at the centre of the controversy. Nevertheless, the parties that boycotted the vote did so because, once again, the main parties have closed an agreement behind all other parties' backs. The rejection of the procedure has united left-wing and pro-sovereignty groups and also Ciudadanos and Vox, while it has also met resistance from within the parties.
Sovereigntist parties have staged their protest jointly with a photograph in the corridors of the Spanish parliament and an appearance before the media. There were representatives of ERC, JxCat, PDECat, EH Bildu, CUP and BNG. None of these parties has voted and, in the case of ERC, EH Bildu and PDECat they did not intervene in the debate either. "The best way to protest is to leave the house," said Gabriel Rufian, spokesman for ERC. Others did intervene, such as Josep Pagès, who on behalf of JxCat asked Unidas Podemos to be "coherent". Sovereignist parties have centred their message on demanding explanations from Podemos.
Vox also put its finger on the sore spot and has tried to ridicule Podemos MP Antón Gómez Reino after his intervention. The Galician MP made it clear in his speech that he was not defending the vote in favour of people like Arnaldo and Concepción Espejel – "you could say that they are leaders of the PP without a membership card", he asserted – but that Podemos was closing ranks to "end the hijacking of constitutional bodies and defend democracy from those who want to destabilise it".
Despite the group's majority position, at least two Podemos MPs have not voted for Arnaldo: Gloria Elizo and Meri Pita. This Wednesday they published an article in El Periódico de España in which they considered that "the price to pay in political terms of democratic and social regeneration, of building citizenship, is simply unaffordable". "Each affirmative vote [for Arnaldo] is a deliberate ignorance," they stated. In a message on Twitter, Elizo said: "I still believe that small gestures of coherence, isolated acts of dignity, are enough to provoke great changes". In turn, Pita said she voted "accordingly and in conscience" with the article.
In the PSOE, the Basque deputy Odón Elorza, who last week in the appointments committee grilled Arnaldo with 17 questions that questioned his suitability for the position, also dissociated himself from the instructions of the leadership. The leadership of the parliamentary group appointed another spokesman for the debate in the plenary and Elorza has not supported the candidate proposed by the PP "in defence of the prestige and dignity of the institutions of the Constitutional Court and the Spanish Parliament". The PSOE has announced that it will consider whether to take action against Elorza, but it remains to be seen whether there are other dissidents in the Socialist ranks. The group's leadership had forced their MPs to communicate their vote, so they can find out if anyone else went against the whip.
PSOE and PP seeking to renew General Council of the Judiciary
The only ones who have defended the agreement were the spokesmen of the PSOE, Francisco Aranda, and PP, Vicente Tirado. Both have appealed to the proper functioning of the institutions and the "stability" of the State. After criticising those parties that have left the house appealing to "dignity", the socialist has reached out to the formation of Pablo Casado to proceed to the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary, after this first step with the Constitutional Court and the Court of Auditors. Before, Tirado also backed unblocking the judges' governing body, although no progress has been made.
The elected candidates were Enriqueta Chicano, Dolores Genaro, Isabel Fernánez, Diego Íñiguez, José Manuel Otero and Miguel Ángel Torres for the Court of Auditors; Enrique Arnaldo, Concepción Espejel, Juan Ramón Sáez and Inmaculada Montalbán for the Constitutional Court; and Ángel Gabilondo and Maria Teresa Jiménez Becerril as Ombudsman and his first deputy.