Spain’s judiciary faces unprecedented turmoil: here’s what you need to know

Renewal of chief judges at a standstill after leaked text reveals political meddling

Spain's Supreme Court in Madrid (by Tània Tàpia)
Spain's Supreme Court in Madrid (by Tània Tàpia) / Alan Ruiz Terol

Alan Ruiz Terol | Barcelona

November 21, 2018 04:35 PM

Spain’s justice system is facing an unprecedented crisis following a leaked message scandal that brought out into the open political meddling in the appointment of chief judges.

Manuel Marchena, who was soon to be elected president of the Spanish Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), backed out on Tuesday after a leaked text by People’s Party (PP) spokesperson Ignacio Cosidó revealed that his appointment was seen as serving the interests of the party.

In a Whatsapp message sent to his colleagues, Cosidó said that Marchena’s appointment would mean conservative judges would win against the progressives in most votes, and claimed they would "control from behind the scenes" the court chamber where Catalan independence leaders will be tried.

With Marchena gone, PP broke the deal with the ruling Socialists to renew chief judges—the only major agreement between Spain’s two main parties since president Pedro Sánchez came to power last spring after ousting PP’s former leader.

Sánchez accused the conservatives of bringing "democracy’s fundamental institution" to a standstill in order to cover up their "disgrace."

Pablo Casado, PP’s new head, responded to Sánchez saying he "did not have any credit," and urged him to call a fresh election "as soon as possible."