That the first body to issue an unusual and extraordinarily critical statement on remarks by the new Spanish coalition government should be the upper echelons of the judiciary shows perfectly clearly that the battle has already begun and is going to be fought in the open. The reaction from the General Council of the Judiciary against Pablo Iglesias has delighted the right, and that despite what he said, although it stings, being obvious. Or is it that the rulings from European courts referring to, first, the European Arrest Warrants and, later, immunity, have not left the Spanish justice system in a bad place? Is it an exaggeration to say, as the deputy prime minister did, that they've been a humiliation for the Spanish state? What have the Court of Justice of the European Union, Germany, Scotland and Belgium done if not set the Supreme Court right?
Another matter is that it should irritate the deep state to hear this from the mouth of the deputy prime minister of Spain who, until Monday, was just Podemos's secretary general. The livid reaction from the General Council of the Judiciary, marking its territory, is a sign that the conflict goes far beyond Podemos and that the real target is Pedro Sánchez. It's surprising, that said, that they should have so quickly opened hostilities and that the upper echelons of the judiciary should aim to nip in the bud what Iglesias said, saying that, "from the most absolute respect for the right to freedom of expression, the Permanent Commission considers it essential to restate that the actions of the Judiciary, an essential institution in any democratic society, at all times pursue the observance of the law and the defence of the rights recognised to all Spanish citizens, the basis of our social and democratic state under the rule of law". Words with a clear target audience and which met with a reply late in the afternoon from the Moncloa government palace, which came out to defend its deputy prime minister and close ranks.
The nomination of the new attorney general during the first cabinet meeting, the controversial former justice minister Dolores Delgado, and the vicious reactions seen, were already a first sign that the Spanish right and a significant part of the left were going to respond with aggression at the drop of a hat. And that they would quickly interpret that behind everything there could be an attempt by Pedro Sánchez to dejudicialise the Catalan conflict and who knows if he might end up reforming the Penal Code to modify the crimes of rebellion and sedition and enable the release of the political prisoners. It's an electoral proposal from En Comú if they should enter government, and the pro-independence movement will invoke it, although there's no guarantee there's anything more than smoke there and that PSOE will end up validating it. In any case, time is needed, and, moreover, political will is never certain with Sánchez.
It's easy to compare the current political situation with that after the confidence motion, and that mirage lasted very few weeks. The independence movement is coming, as such, from that experience which isn't so distant. If one thing might have changed with respect to then: Sánchez has more enemies than ever, has burnt his bridges with a significant portion of the establishment, the king's inner circle emits discomfort, if not annoyance, and the senior legal leadership controlled by the PP and which cannot change isn't going to let anything slide. That, whilst the defence minister, Margarita Robles, has to fire the Chief of the General Staff and hastily name a replacement because the outgoing general had given the king an explosive report on the Armed Forces, bypassing the minister.
If it's curious that Sánchez should change allies, rhetoric and promises as if he were changing clothes, it ends up being more surprising that he should enter into territory previously closed off like aiming to reform the justice system and move the senior judiciary from the dangerous place it has led the Spanish state to. That which said it was protecting democracy and which doesn't stop acting against it and those who defend it.