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Top Spanish judicial officials to continue in post despite expired mandate after lack of deal

Socialists and conservatives reach agreement on renewing leadership of several institutions but not courts' governing body


14 October 2021 12:21 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Members of Spain's top judicial authority, the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), will remain in their posts despite the fact that their mandate expired in late 2018.

The Socialists and the People's Party, the two political parties needed for a majority in Congress to renew the country's top institutions, have failed to agree on nominating new judges to govern over the judiciary for years. 

On Thursday, both parties sealed a deal that will see new leadership in the Constitutional Court, the Court of Auditors, the Ombudsperson, and the Data Protection Agency, all of which with their mandate expired, but not the CGPJ. 

Two identical statements by the government and the People's Party read that "those who will take the posts in this new era will have recognized prestige and consensus, and will be announced in the coming days."

Indeed, it is expected that the new posts will be approved by Spain's Congress and Senate on the week beginning on October 25. 

How appointment of judges' governing body works in Spain

The CGPJ is in charge of appointments, promotions, and transfers of judges, as well as inspecting how courts work and "staunchly safeguarding the independence of the judiciary," protecting it from the other powers. 

Yet, it is the Congress and the Senate, the legislative power, the one appointing the members of the CGPJ leadership. Both chambers require three-fifths of their members to appoint a new team when the five-year mandates in CGPJ expire. 

In December 2018, the current members of the governing body reached the end of their terms, but have continued to hold their posts until now since the Socialists and the People's Party – essential for this majority – have been unable to agree on their successors. 

The CGPJ president is also the head of Spain's Supreme Court. 

During the event to symbolically open the judicial session on September 6 in Madrid, the current head of the body, Carlos Lesmes, referred to the ongoing political standoff between Spain's two largest parties, over the appointment of new chief judges, including a replacement for Lesmes himself.

He urged both parties to overcome partisanship and come to an agreement "in the coming weeks." However, Lesmes has ignored calls for him to step down despite his term having expired more than three years ago.


  • Facade of the Spanish Supreme Court in November 2017 (by Tània Tàpia)

  • A police van outside the Spanish Supreme Court (by Xavier Alsinet)

  • Facade of the Spanish Supreme Court in November 2017 (by Tània Tàpia)
  • A police van outside the Spanish Supreme Court (by Xavier Alsinet)