Chief justice likely to survive vote calling for his resignation
Predicament of embattled judge puts Spanish king in prickly position over upcoming celebrations
After the Supreme Court earlier this week threw out a suit against Carlos Dívar, the president of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), in connection with 32 luxurious extended weekend trips he took at the taxpayers’ expense, on Saturday he faces a plenary session of the CGPJ in which there are only two items on the order of the day: his resignation or his dismissal.
In order for either of these to be passed, it requires the vote of 12 members of the 21-member Council, with the president not allowed to vote. However, Dívar’s fate is not as dark as has been painted. Apart from the five members who have publicly called for him to stand down and the six who have come out in his support, the remaining members may swing either way. Most of the members lean toward a dignified exit for Dívar, who has been unable to justify the expenses he claimed were for “official business” trips.
However, Dívar, who is also Supreme Court chief justice, is digging in his heels and refusing to go, believing that his opponents cannot muster sufficient votes to force his ouster. In a display of confidence, he invited all of the members of the Council to accompany him at an official ceremony on Sunday and also to an event on Wednesday in Cádiz to celebrate the bicentenary of the Supreme Court.
King’s concerns However, the Royal Household has notified the Council that whether or not King Juan Carlos attends another ceremony in honor of the Supreme Court on Monday will be decided at the last minute. It is well known that with so many heads of Latin American top courts attending Monday’s event, the monarch has no desire to preside over another institutional crisis. At the same time, the Royal Household is reticent about the king attending a ceremony with someone who might not be in his post for much longer, particular someone who has billed the public coffers for private trips.
The most likely scenario is that there will be eight or nine votes in favor of Dívar standing down, five or six abstentions and six against him leaving. That could put the president of the Council in a difficult position but would not be sufficient to force him out.
The motion for his dismissal, which was proposed by José Manuel Gómez Benítez, who blew the initial whistle on Dívar’s trips, is unlikely to have any support.