One of the obvious sequels of the events that took place in the autumn of 2017 in Catalonia is the prominence that the judiciary has acquired since then, and how the logical and necessary balance between the powers of a state has been totally upset. The inaction of Mariano Rajoy as prime minister when it came to responding politically to all the demands of the Catalan independence movement, and his international failure when faced with the ballot boxes in the referendum of 1st October led to the deep state taking a step forward, which materialized on 3rd October in the speech of king Felipe VI and a realignment of state powers. No one doubts today that the judiciary has achieved a preeminent position in power, above that of the legislature and the executive. The independence movement is impacted by this on a day-to-day basis, with absolutely senseless court sentences and repression ongoing without any end in sight, since the Spanish state - whether through the Supreme Court, the National Audience, the Catalan High Court, Barcelona's 13th court or the Court of Auditors - constantly digs out new cases with which new proceedings can be initiated and new people investigated.
This anomalous situation for a judiciary, omnipotent and omnipresent, cannot, of course, be contented by dominating only in Catalonia. Why not also in Spain? Why not seize the moment to take its power struggle into a head-to-head duel with the government of Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias (now, Yolanda Díaz)? The time for this has arisen in the worst circumstances for the Spanish executive, which for some time now has seemed disoriented, and with the government's almighty guru Iván Redondo lost in his permanent polls. With a Sánchez who is engaged in a fight with Isabel Díaz Ayuso for power in the Community of Madrid in which he has much to lose, a Pablo Iglesias in his role as a candidate who seems to want to fire off his last cartridge in the election of May 4th and a right that is more emboldened than ever.
It is no joke for more than 2,500 Spanish judges to go to the EU and accuse the Spanish government before the Commission of risking a serious violation of the rule of law. The Professional Judges Association (APM), the Francisco de Vitoria Judicial Association (AJFV) and the Independent Judicial Forum (FJI) - that is, three of the four associations of Spanish judges, the absent one being Judges for Democracy - are asking the European Commission to initiate the procedure set out in Article Seven of the Treaty on European Union to sanction a Member State for violating core EU values such as human rights or the rule of law. Which, depending on the resolution, could mean that Spain would face the loss of voting rights in the European Council. I doubt that it will reach this point, but just in case the image of Spain abroad was not sufficiently damaged already, this is all that was needed.
The political capital that Pedro Sánchez has burnt since he won the no-confidence motion against Mariano Rajoy is something unparalleled in recent years. The permanent failure to comply with every accord he has made leaves him in a no man's land, in which any approach made to reach a deal with him ends up becoming a highly toxic operation. In this battle, the judges' argument is in general not justified, as the Spanish Parliament must be able to decide how to renew its highest governing body, the General Council of the Judiciary. However, the executive's clumsy way of doing things, unable to negotiate when it cannot impose its ideas, hands the judiciary a trump card it can play against the political powers.
The Spanish government is having to take its own medicine, after handing over political power to the judiciary at a certain moment in order to save its skin because of its repeated inability to act politically. And errors have their price.