A day after three justices sitting on the Constitutional Court resigned simultaneously and had their resignations rejected by the tribunal's president, Spain's two main parties accused each other of causing the deadlock that is preventing these judges from being replaced.
Although the justices' mandate officially expired in November 2010, the ruling Socialists (PSOE) and the opposition Popular Party (PP) have so far failed to reach an agreement on their replacements. The speaker in Congress, José Bono, has called upon both parties to hammer out a deal by June 30.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Catalan regional government, Francesc Homs, called the PSOE and PP's attitude "a swindle" and "a spectacle."
"They never tire of giving us lessons on what is and is not constitutional [...]," said Homs. "We pass a very severe judgment on this partisan and cynical attitude that contributes to the most absolute discredit of this institution."
Last year, the Constitutional Court ruled on the new Catalan autonomy statute following a complaint by the PP over the use of the word "nation" in the text, among other controversial issues. Although the court sanctioned the document as a whole, it declared 14 articles to be unconstitutional, angering many Catalan nationalists. The court at the time included justices whose mandates had officially ended.
According to Homs, the spectacle of "the partisan calculations over the composition of the Constitutional Court" is "more than deplorable" and "profoundly devastating for an institutional system and a democratic state."
On Tuesday morning, the PP spokeswoman in Congress, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said her party is willing to renew the Constitutional Court "as soon as possible" before the June 30 deadline. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said that the PSOE always had the will to do the same. "As far as the government is concerned, the renewal of the Constitutional Court should have taken place at the right time. If only it had been that way; but two can't negotiate if one side does not want to."
Controversial subjects pending for the top court's deliberation include abortion legislation, the legality of the radical Basque party Sortu and homosexual marriage.