The plenary session of the Congress of Deputies will live this Thursday a tense and difficult day for a large majority of left-wing parliamentarians of the PSOE and United We Can, who are scheduled to follow the instructions of the leadership of their groups to vote in favor of the candidates agreed by the Government with the PP to renew the pending vacancies of the Constitutional Court.
Enrique Arnaldo, one of the candidates proposed by the PP, will be in the vast majority of those ballots of the left-wing deputies. But many of the grassroots parliamentarians of these formations, some members of the executive and leadership of those groups and up to half a dozen ministers of the Cabinet headed by Pedro Sánchez yesterday acknowledged to EL PAÍS that they will support the initiative “with much discomfort and disgust “,” Because there is no other remedy “and because they have understood and accepted that it will achieve” a greater and primordial good, to renew the Constitution. “
The PSOE has conveyed to some of its parliamentarians that the matter agreed with the PP to assume without vetoes the four agreed candidates (Arnaldo and Concepción Espejel raised from the conservative ranks and Ramón Sáez and Inmaculada Montalbán by the two allied parties in the Executive ) is of vital importance and that dissent will not be accepted or allowed. An approach that was already closed in a conversation between leaders of the PSOE and United We Can last week in the face of the appointments commission where those four applicants passed the first examination and filter.
That vote, which in the end was easily overcome with a vote weighted by groups, was not exempt from strong criticism from the then socialist spokesperson, Odón Elorza, and evident displeasure from the Podemos spokesperson, Txema Guijarro. Neither of the two will speak today in plenary to question the suitability of Arnaldo once his contacts, his publications and his collaborations with popular administrations are known, even in violation of the law.
Sources of the executive of the PSOE and the Government firmly transmitted the idea that today neither unexpected votes of punishment nor unchecking will be registered. The leadership of the socialist group, to further underline this warning, distributed again yesterday morning to all its deputies an email with a fairly clear voting instruction on the procedure to follow. The vote, where appropriate, will not be individual, telematic and secret, because they will have to communicate it previously to an assistant of the group. Podemos specified in this sense, after reading the article that two of their parliamentarians, Gloria Elizo and Meri Pita, had published yesterday in El Periódico de España criticizing the acceptance of those candidates, that it will be impossible for them to act or apply sanctions if desertions are registered because your vote will be secret. Which is, in addition, the indication provided by the presidency of the Cortes on how this vote was going to proceed for the first time in this legislature in 100% of the matters under discussion.
The Basque deputy of Podemos Roberto Uriarte wrote on Twitter: “Today we have an ethical dilemma in Congress: vote in favor of a degrading renewal of the Constitutional Court – the only one that achieves the required majority – or allow an illegitimate blockade to continue. I will vote for the lesser evil, without the peace that the most honorable people would give to vote ”. The president of his group, Jauma Asens, recovered the image of the vote of shame “with the clamp on his nose” that Elorza had already wielded, but warned that they would vote in favor: “The opposite would be more coherent, but would have disastrous consequences ”.
A score of socialist and United We deputies, consulted by EL PAÍS, admitted that Arnaldo and Espejel’s proposal did not please them at all, they remarked that “the responsibility and explanations about these appointments corresponds to the PP, the party that raised them” and they agreed on assume the theory of “lesser evil” or “greater good”, renew the Constitutional.
The focus is also on Espejel
One of the most relevant members of the Socialist Executive stressed: “Like it does not like anything, but in these situations in politics you have to set a goal and a more fundamental good, such as achieving the renewal of the Constitutional Court.” A minister pointed out that too much focus is being placed on the controversial profile of Arnaldo and little on that of the other PP candidate, Espejel, with a also very controversial past. Several components of the Government, however, detached the importance of renewing the Constitutional and having assumed the cost of the candidates of the PP with a forthcoming renewal of the Council of the Judicial Power, still pending. Voices are beginning to be heard in the PSOE that its main negotiator, Minister Félix Bolaños, gave too much margin to his interlocutor from the PP, Teodoro García Egea.
Criticism of the PP candidate was expressed yesterday by President Pedro Sánchez, who asked to “save the agreement”; Vice President Yolanda Díaz – “The PP puts the independence of the institutions at risk” -, or the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, who conceded that they should choose between the two possible realities; “Continue as we are or start a path to change the bias of judicial institutions.” Gabriel Rufián (ERC) or Íñigo Errejón (Más País), resorted to the metaphor of “swallowing a toad”. More Country, such as Ciudadanos, PNV or EH Bildu could choose today to be in the plenary session but not vote. Rufián called on Podemos to stand up and not digest, in this case, “a crocodile.”
The Board of Congress agreed seven days ago that all the points of this week’s plenary session would be voted only electronically by 100% of the deputies. The Table also confirmed that the vote would be secret for the election of the new members of the constitutional bodies. Parliamentarians must thus write the names of the candidates they wish to vote for, “up to four for the Constitutional Court and up to six for the Accounts Court” and in the case of the Ombudsman, they can put the candidate, Ángel Gabilondo, or vote in white.
The leadership of the PSOE in Congress sent, for its part, another voting instruction: “The deputy must send the proof of his vote to the assistant. Once the assistant has verified that the vote has been cast correctly, he must send confirmation of this (an email from the group is required there), indicating the name of the deputy, if the vote has been carried out correctly or, where appropriate , the incidence that could have occurred ”. And finally added: “It is important that they send that information to avoid errors and the collapse of emails.”
This instruction implies that the group management verifies both that the vote has been cast and the direction of the vote of its deputies.
A member of the Government, with responsibilities in the parliamentary group, confirmed to EL PAÍS that these types of instructions have been issued throughout the legislature and stressed that all comply with them, starting with the president himself, Pedro Sánchez. The socialist group even distributes the salary with the payroll of the deputies, instead of allowing it to be sent directly from the Congress. The leadership of Unidos Podemos and that of the PP assured EL PAÍS that they do not apply any system to know before or after the vote of their parliamentarians when it is registered electronically.